Auditor General says Tax Administration Jamaica spent over $371 million on leased properties it has not occupied

The Auditor General’s Department has found that Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) spent over $371 million on properties it leased but has not yet occupied.

The report on the audit findings were tabled in parliament, yesterday.

According to the report, up to August 31, 2023, the TAJ spent millions of taxpayers’ money on 2 unoccupied locations in Mandeville, Manchester and Annotto Bay, St. Mary.

According to the Auditor General, the TAJ was seeking a property to relocate its office in St. Mary, and the sitting Member of Parliament, through his private company, allegedly bought a commercial building close to the existing tax office, which was subsequently rented to TAJ for approximately $700,000 monthly.

The report revealed that the building is not yet occupied by the TAJ, although rent has been paid for approximately eight months and retrofitting works are yet to commence.

The auditor general’s department said during the audit it determined that the allegations were true, however, no evidence was presented which suggested that the m-p who is listed as the director of the private company which owns the Annotto Bay location in question, interfered with the TAJ’s procurement process, or influenced TAJ’s decision to lease the property.

The Auditor General also found that on January 25, 2022, TAJ began leasing a property located on main street in Annotto Bay, and as of August 31, 2023, spent $15 million on payments.

The TAJ projected that the retrofitting works should cost over $56 million, but up to the time of the AG’s report, there was no evidence that TAJ had relocated its operations to the property.

The Auditor General said the TAJ also leased a building in Greenvale, Mandeville which it is yet to occupy despite expending over $356.8 million as at August 31, 2023.

The sum paid for both unoccupied locations is $371.8 million.

As a result, the Auditor General has recommended that the TAJ ensure the segregation of responsibilities for identifying and selecting properties for lease.

It said based on the funds already expended, the TAJ must urgently put in place the necessary arrangements for the timely completion of its renovation projects.

Meantime, the TAJ said it will accept the recommendations and will review its asset management policy to incorporate the relevant changes.

It noted however that there may be adverse impact on its operations, modernization efforts and customer service delivery.


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