State entity moves to weed out corrpution with whistleblower policyFriday, December 20, 2019
BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), which was four years ago branded as “one of the most corrupt” State entities, will early next year introduce an internal whistle-blower policy as part of efforts to clean up its image.
Chairman Dennis Chung served notice of the NSWMA's intention at the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development's quarterly press briefing at its Hagley Park Road headquarters in the Corporate Area on Tuesday.
According to Chung, the move is in fulfilment of one of several objectives set by the entity's board.
“We also have worked on our policies internally, and we are now putting in place a whistle-blower policy which we are hoping to effect early in 2020 so that our employees can call an independent body and report anything they think is wrong within the organisation,” Chung said, adding that a sexual harassment policy is also being introduced.
The whistle-blower policy will provide a mechanism for all directors, officers, employees, and contractors of the NSWMA to report and disclose, in good faith, all improper or illegal conduct which adversely affect the entity or is contrary to the public interest, without fear of punishment or reprisal. It is also aimed at facilitating prompt and full investigations into reports which are made in good faith, and stipulates the procedure which must be complied with when addressing any complaints which allege acts or attempted acts of interference, intimidation, or reprisal against directors, officers, employees, and contractors who report, disclose, or investigate such acts.
He said other efforts to improve the agency's credibility have seen the completion and submission to Parliament of audited financial statements which were nearly one decade overdue.
“We are fully up to date now and we are making plans for the year coming up,” Chung said, noting that another objective had been met in ensuring that a significant amount of garbage trucks were put in the system.
“Thanks to our minister, we have had, over the past two years, 43 garbage trucks added. And [it's] not because of the lack of trucks why we can't collect garbage; it's rain and traffic and so on. Next year we are supposed to get another 100 trucks in the system,” he told the briefing.
Turning to the issue of disposal sites and risk mitigation, Chung said “for the first time in the history of the NSWMA we have three of the eight sites having environmental permits, including the two biggest ones [Riverton, St Andrew and Retirement, St James]”.
“We have new regulations coming soon. So if you don't dispose of your garbage properly the fines are significant,” he warned.
The NSWMA chairman said these developments were behind the improved ratings the entity has been receiving.
“Because of all these things that we have done, we entered the Public Bodies Corporate Governance Awards for the first time and we walked away with a special recognition certificate for significant improvement in corporate governance practices at the authority, and also first runner-up in compliance and disclosure in the information category. And this, we think, is significant because four years ago this was seen as one of the most corrupt organisations in Jamaica,” Chung pointed out.
Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie, commenting on the improvements made in the organisation, said the entity — which in the past had been rocked by allegations of political interference — had “lacked credibility” and was not held in high regard.
“I am not saying we are where we want to be, but we are in a much much better position,” McKenzie said.
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