Wed | Aug 10, 2022


Monroe Ellis tops 2021 field for coveted RJRGLEANER Honour Award

Published:Tuesday | June 28, 2022 | 12:09 AM

The chief public servant Jamaicans depend on to watch over the public purse, Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis, has won the 2021 RG Platinum Award.

Monroe Ellis earned the top RJRGLEANER Honour Award for her exemplary leadership in the public sector, marked by boldness and transparency, as she defended the interests of ordinary Jamaicans.

The award was “unexpected” but appreciated, Monroe Ellis shared at the gala event, which aired last night on TVJ and The Gleaner’s YouTube channel.

She also topped the nominees in the Public Service category for her relentless leadership of the Auditor General’s Department (AuGD) in 2021, primarily in the context of added challenges and intense public scrutiny.

This is not the first time the exemplary work of the auditor general is being recognised by the RJRGLEANER Honour Awards Selection Committee, having presented her with the category award for public service in 2018.

For her, the top honour was only possible because of the collective work of the team she leads at the AuGD.

“Whereas I am the leader of the organisation, and I’m the one named, it’s really as a result of the work of the members of the department and the recognition of that work and the importance of what we do,” Monroe Ellis told The Gleaner, noting that the recognition will serve as an inspiration for her team members to continue to working with the highest level of professionalism and objectivity.

“It’s not an enviable position to be the head of a national audit office, and you can tell from the reports that it doesn’t earn you friends, and oftentimes, it can be considered a thankless job based on the nature of what you do. It’s not necessarily welcoming in all circumstances, so it’s good to know that there’s that level of support from media, from civil society and the general citizenry,” the auditor general said, even as she paid tribute to her fellow nominees, acknowledging that they were equally deserving of the top award.

While leading the AuGD in the last 14 years, Monroe Ellis has brought to public attention numerous accounts of misappropriation, mismanagement and lack of accountability of the country’s public resources.

Among the matters of national importance that stood out for the RJRGLEANER Honour Awards Selection Committee from the auditor general last year was the damning report on the private bonded warehouses and bunkering operations of the Jamaica Customs Agency. The special audit found violations of laws that resulted in more than $2 billion in financial exposure and more than $500 million in uncollected revenue.

There was also the audit into the operations of Nutrition Products Limited, exposing serious breaches of the Public Bodies Management and Accountability Act. The performance audit revealed that the entity paid $143 million to companies and individuals connected to board members and management staff to provide transportation, repairs and maintenance, sanitation and other services.

Then there was the special audit report of the Joint Committee for Tertiary Education, which urged the Ministry of Finance to consider surcharge action against two senior officers of the education ministry for the disbursement of $124 million that could not be accounted for, and called for a police investigation.

Monroe Ellis has faced intense criticism and backlash for the audits her department produces, especially from politicians; but she has also earned the admiration of many for her fierce and fearless stance, carrying out her job with integrity.

In May, she and three other outstanding Jamaican women were awarded by the Rotary Club of New Kingston for their resilience, tenacity, and stalwart contributions towards the development, growth and sustainability of Jamaica.

The 2021 RJRGLEANER Honour Awards also saw several persons and individuals earning awards in their respective fields for their contribution to nation building.

In the category awards, the winners were:

• The Alpha Institute – Arts & Culture

• The GraceKennedy Group – Business

• Elaine Thompson Herah – Sport

• One-on-One Educational Services – Education

• Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association – Voluntary Service & Other

• Professor Wayne McLaughlin – Science & Technology

• Dr Delroy Fray – Health and Wellness

Special awards were also presented to:

• The E-Commerce National Delivery Solution (ENDS) – Special Award for Business

• The Building Out Our STEM Teachers (BOOST) Fellowship Programme – Special Award for Education

• The Jamaica Accountability Meter Portal (JAMP) – Special Award for Public Service

• The Street People Liberation Foundation – Special Award for Voluntary Service & Other

• Montego Bay Animal Haven – Special Award for Voluntary Service & Other

Now in its 42nd year, the RJRGLEANER Honour Awards continues its time-honoured tradition of recognising the initiative, accomplishment and courage of individuals and organisations that have contributed significantly to improving Jamaica’s quality of life, at any time in the preceding year, or are likely to bring about such a change in the immediate future.