Lack of implementation a stumbling block for NSWMA
NSWMA Board Chairman Dennis Chung (left) and Executrive Director Audley Gordon

AUDITOR General Pamela Monroe Ellis says the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) has a number of strategies on paper that could improve its waste management activities and income but lack of implementation has been a stumbling block to those goals.

She also noted that her department's performance audit of the authority was unable to determine the full extent of the resources which the NSWMA needs because the information was not readily available: "We are of the view that the full extent of the resources needed is not known, or is not expressed, so whereas we could determine that there were shortages with trucks in other areas, we were not able to determine that," she explained.

Monroe Ellis was speaking at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) at Gordon House on Tuesday, during a review of the findings of the audit for the financial years 2016 /2017 and 2021/22. The report was tabled on July 26 in Parliament.

The auditor general noted that the NSWMA had in fact developed a strategic business plan for 2017-2021 which includes many of the approaches which can improve waste management, including public-private partner strategies; composting and plastic recycling; and encouraging projects and programmes geared towards reducing the quantity of waste generated across the island.

"The issue that I have is whereas I believe that all the necessary things that need to be done has actually been considered, what we seek to do as auditors is to determine what you have achieved so far, and for all these instances the implementation was 'could not be determined'…that too is exacerbated that the full gamut of resource required is not determined," she said.

In the report, Monroe Ellis said that although the NSWMA has asserted that insufficient resources negatively impacted its waste management activities, it did not provide evidence that it conducted a comprehensive needs analysis to accurately quantify the gap between the resources it received and what is required for effective solid waste management.

At the same time, she emphasised to the committee that the matter of the outstanding regulations to the NSWMA Act, which were submitted to the chief parliamentary counsel in 2014, but have not been actioned is significant, and the NSWMA is therefore not totally to blame.

"So I can't fault NSWMA entirely for that. But the NSWMA need to give life to the Act and to give power to NSWMA to actually carry out its regulating activities which has a revenue component to it as well that can assist the NSWMA in whatever funding constraints that they may currently experience."

The auditor general told the committee that the NSWMA has been on her department's radar for a long time, but that her team had delayed, to give the authority some time to "settle down", considering the provisions of the Act and its regulations.

"We made a decision to go in based on the risk that we determined, but more so the role that the NSWMA plays in the fulfilment of the sustainable development goal and the national development plan," she said.

BY ALPHEA SUMNER Senior staff reporter saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

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