Major overhaul recommended for NMFU

first_imgFollowing a forensic audit conducted at the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU), it was recommended that a series of revamp measures be undertaken to enhance the functioning of the Unit.Among the recommendations put forward by independent auditing firm, Ram and McRae Consulting, were revamping of the organisational structure, enhance the technical capabilities, ensure that current organisational objectives are met and prepare for the passage and operationalising of the Telecommunications Act.The report, which was released on Friday by the Finance Ministry, said in addition to appointing a Board of Directors, the NFMU needs to establish a proper reporting line with the subject Minister; that is, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.“It is therefore recommended that pending the passing of the Telecommunications Act, the Prime Minister and the appointed Board should establish clear lines of authority, communications and reporting with and within the Unit,” the auditor stated.On the issue of the Telecommunications Act, Ram and McRae urged that the Unit prepare for the passage and operationalising of the new legislation since when enacted, the NFMU will be absorbed in the new Agency and subject to that authority.This will require new regulations and orders to ensure that the functions are performed and to maximise revenue collection, the report stated. In addition, it outlined that as the telecoms sector is on the verge of being liberalised and modernised, next generation mobile networks will need more spectrum, which would result in increased revenue. On this note, the Unit is advised to reduce and regularise the number of unlicensed spectrum users.This now brings the issue of outstanding debts and debt management. Ram and McRae said during the review, it was revealed that a number of issues were unearthed primarily in the areas of managing revenue and receivables, and illegally meeting expenditures of other agencies and projects.The accounting department should implement standard procedures for the invoicing of users and the following up and collection of receivables. These procedures should include the specific timeframes for letters, telephone calls and suspension of licences for hard-core defaulters.Furthermore, it was observed that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) of the NFMU’s Accounts Department saw invoices being prepared a minimum of six weeks prior to the anniversary data. However, a number of licences were not invoiced in accordance with the SOPs. Also, with regard to payment tracking, the SOPs highlights that accounting staff should execute phone calls to the licensee two weeks before the anniversary date, on the anniversary date and two week after the anniversary date to ensure payments are received but these responsibilities were not properly conducted, the auditors posited.According to the accounting firm, in the case of a corporation sole, which the NFMU falls under, responsibility for ensuring the existence and operation of an adequate system of controls rests with the Managing Director. This represents a significant weakness on the management and oversight of the NFMU since it can facilitate the overriding of controls by the Managing Director.Moreover, Ram and McRae went on to talk about the “close connection” between the NFMU, which is charged with the responsibility for allocating frequencies, and the Guyana Broadcasting Authority (GBA), the agency responsible for issuing radio, television and cable licences.The report went on to detail that during the years 2012 to 2015, the NFMU met payments on behalf of the GNBA amounting to $28,877,267. These payments included directors fees, employees salaries, and fees for the GNBA’s Monitoring Committee and other operating expenses. In December 2014, the GNBA reimbursed the NFMU for the entire sum advanced as such no further action was required.However, Ram and McRae outlined that while the head of the NFMU is a member of the GBA, given the corporate sole status of the NFMU the GBA has no formal role in that body. “Ram & McRae also strongly disagrees with the current status as a Corporation Sole,” the auditor remarked.Additionally, the auditing firm recommended that the NFMU establish relationships with institutions or authorities outside of Guyana in the area of radio frequency spectrum management and develop technical standards and engineering support facilities necessary or appropriate in relation to the functions.“Implementation of the recommendations contained in this report should enhance the functioning of the Unit,” the firm stated.Prime MinisterMoses NagamootooChristopher Ramlast_img read more

Airport hotels ‘living-wage’ law advances

first_imgDespite continued opposition from the business community, the Los Angeles City Council gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a “living-wage” ordinance for a dozen hotels near LAX. The 9-3 vote came in the council’s second attempt to require the Century Boulevard hotels to boost what they pay some 3,500 workers. A final vote on the measure is set for next week. But the business community – which had organized what had been expected to be a bitter and costly referendum on an earlier version of the ordinance – also opposed the revised measure and said it could challenge it in court. “We will have to get together now to determine what we should do next,” said Gary Toebben, president of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Under the new measure, hotels would pay workers $9.39 an hour with health benefits or $10.64 an hour without them. It would be phased in by July 1. In return, city government would make $1 million in streetscape improvements, spend $50,000 as part of a marketing campaign and undertake studies on the impact of a living wage. The improvements would come in an airport hospitality enhancement zone that would incorporate the boundaries of a current business improvement district. City government also would agree to study whether to build a miniconference center in the area. But Toebben and others have said they remain concerned that the ordinance could be extended to other city businesses. “The entire business community stands united against this type of … intervention in negotiations between labor and business,” Toebben said. “This discourages business growth and job creation.” Several business leaders argued that the new measure is substantially like the one they had targeted for a referendum, and they questioned the legality of adopting it rather than putting the matter on the ballot. In a written opinion, City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo said he believes that the measure is defensible but could present some risk for the city. Hahn and council President Eric Garcetti disputed claims that the new measure is substantially the same as the previous one. Hahn said the new measure has more than 14 changes from the earlier effort. “The original living-wage proposal was strictly that,” Garcetti said. “A lot of us would have liked to have held the election. I believe the people of Los Angeles would support a living wage, but we made a decision to accommodate the business community.” The city has had a living-wage law in effect for more than a decade, but it applies only to firms that do business under contract with the city. The council has argued that it can be extended to the Century Corridor hotels because they benefit from city investment at Los Angeles International Airport. rick.orlov@dailynews.com (213) 978-0390 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! A spokesman for the hotels said a lawsuit is likely. “It only takes one hotel or one person to challenge this,” spokesman Arnie Berghoff said. Some on the council decried the lawsuit warnings. “To have the business community threaten us is an abomination,” Councilwoman Janice Hahn said. “We rescinded our earlier ordinance at their request and made substantial changes in this to accommodate them. We should not wait any longer.” But Councilman Greig Smith – who along with Councilmen Bernard Parks and Dennis Zine opposed the measure – said he does not believe that the new ordinance is significantly different from the earlier one. That one was withdrawn by the council after an outraged business community collected enough voters’ signatures to force the council to back down or put the issue on the ballot in May. “I said before – and my feelings have been confirmed – that this is just a bait and switch,” Smith said. “There is nothing new in here but promises.” last_img read more

Abuse of OT plagues county

first_imgBefore undercover surveillance investigators caught up with her, Probation Department secretary Debra Brown-Patton claimed 762 hours of overtime she never worked. She also falsely claimed 52 hours of compensatory time, cheating taxpayers out of a total of $20,640, Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller records show. “She was regularly modifying her time card after approval by her supervisor to add overtime hours,” said Robert Campbell, supervising investigator in the auditor’s Office of Investigations. Patton, 49, pleaded no contest in July to a felony count of grand theft and was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service and repay the money to the county, prosecutors said. She was fired from her job. The case of Patton – one of a rapidly growing number of county employees fired and disciplined for overtime abuses – comes more than a year after the Board of Supervisors directed officials to rein in excessive overtime. And officials have again begun to question time card abuse as county overtime costs have continued to soar. For the fiscal year ending June 30, the county overspent its overtime budget by $48 million, with total overtime costs shooting up 14 percent from the previous year to $354 million. In January – a month that saw record flooding ravage the county – about 3,000 employees racked up overtime equal to 50 percent or more of their salaries, about 350 employees doubled their salaries and 16 tripled their pay. So far this fiscal year, in October alone nearly 5,600 employees earned overtime equal to half or more of their pay, 520 more than doubled their income, and 50 more than tripled their salaries, according to a new overtime report. Chief Administrative Officer David Janssen said the main reason the county overspent its overtime budget last fiscal year is because the understaffed Sheriff’s Department has had to ask deputies to work double shifts while reopening jails and trying to increase the amount of time inmates serve. The sheriff’s OT budget rose from $75 million in 2003-04 to $123 million last year. Meanwhile, the Probation Department’s overtime budget more than doubled from $6 million in 2003-04 to $13 million last year, primarily due to federal requirements the department increase its ratio of staff to youths in juvenile halls. In addition, however, more than a quarter of Probation Department staff also are off work on long-term disability claims, requiring employees to work more overtime. “Primarily, it’s an increase in workers’ compensation claims driven by a change in the state labor code, which provides more generous benefits to staff who are off work,” said Robert Smythe, chief of administrative services. But some officials also have begun to question whether even more needs to be done to curb time card fraud and rising overtime costs. “There is no question we have to get a handle on it,” said Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, whose district encompasses the Martin Luther King/Drew Medical Center, where numerous workers have been disciplined or fired for time card abuses. “I think overtime is often utilized on a friendship basis to give to some people as a perk. I think there is a lot of abuse in that way,” she said. Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said the soaring numbers of employees doubling and tripling their incomes with overtime makes it clear “extraordinary abuse” is occurring. “Perhaps at this point, a policy of no overtime whatsoever unless it’s specifically approved by managers is the policy they need to pursue,” Coupal said. The supervisors began cracking down on excessive overtime after the Los Angeles Daily News, a sister publication to this newspaper, revealed in June 2004 that 390 employees in the sheriff’s, health and probation departments boosted their salaries more than 50 percent with overtime and eight more than doubled their pay. In August 2004, supervisors directed officials to generate monthly reports tracking employees paid overtime in excess of 50 percent of their regular salaries. troy.anderson@dailynews.com (213) 974-8985 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more