PM orders cellphone audit of all Govt ministers

Jamaica Observer:-KINGSTON, Jamaica – Prime Minster Andrew Holness has ordered an audit, as well as the capping of mobile phone bills, of all Government ministers.

Holness’ directive comes in the wake of reports that Finance Minister Audley Shaw racked up an $8.3 million cellphone bill over a one-year period.

According to an Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) statement, Holness described the situation as unacceptable and “must be addressed immediately”.

The prime minister was leading a meeting of Cabinet ministers ahead of the Parliamentary session this afternoon to discuss and review for the issue of communication costs.

Coming out of the meeting, it was acknowledged that there was no standard, clear and consistent policy being applied across Government regarding the treatment of communication expenses for ministers and ministers of state, the OPM statement said.

Holness has therefore directed the Ministry of Finance to review and report on the respective policies for the provision of communication services including cellphones operating in the various ministries.

This move, he said, will allow Cabinet to make a comprehensive decision on how communication services and expenses of the ministries are treated.

In the interim, Holness has directed that cellular phone expenses be capped.

The MoF was asked to advise the prime minister within a week, on the appropriate amount for the cap to be paid by each minister’s cellular phone bills.

Any amount exceeding the cap would be the responsibility of the respective ministers, unless otherwise approved by the Permanent Secretary, the OPM said.