JM | Dec 6, 2021

Transport ministry slams newspaper report on engagement of Toll Authority CEO

/ Our Today


The Ministry of Transport and Mining has gone on the offensive today (December 6), declaring misleading a newspaper article on the employment of the Toll Authority CEO.

The article, published in The Gleaner under the headline ‘Montague ex-adviser lands $5m job without basic requirements’, stated that the Transport Ministry had acknowledged that Lerone Laing, a former adviser to Transport Minister Robert Montague, was selected to head the Toll Authority despite not meeting the minimum requirements for the job.

The newspaper had pointed to the fact that, while the basic requirements for the job are a master’s degree in business administration or a relevant discipline with a minimum of 10 years’ working experience in a senior management position… , Laing, who was president of the University of the West Indies Students Guild in 2015, had only three year experience at the mid-manager level.

But, in a statement issued after the article was published, the ministry noted that Laing holds a Master of Science Degree in Economics, with distinction and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science with Upper Second Class Honours, as well as three years’ experience at the mid-manager level at the time of his application, encompassing the required competencies – knowledge of laws and transport issues, direct experience as an economist and environmental awareness.

“Mr Laing was deemed suitable for the assignment based on his qualifications, experience and competencies.

Ministry of Transport and Works

Said the Ministry: “Mr Laing was selected to serve as interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Toll Authority in October 2019 for an initial period of six months, following the resignation of the then CEO and against the background of the Toll Authority being among the public sector entities slated at that time for rationalisation.”

The Ministry added: “Mr Laing was chosen after advertisement of the position in a major newspaper on August 21, 2019, further to which 10 applications were received. Two candidates were shortlisted, Mr Laing and one other candidate who was based overseas. Given the uncertainty of tenure within the context of the expected rationalisation process, Mr Laing was considered the more suitable of the two.

“Importantly, Mr Laing was deemed suitable for the assignment based on his qualifications, experience and competencies. The minimum qualifications are that the candidate should hold a Master’s Degree in Business Administration OR relevant discipline. Mr Laing is therefore more than qualified for the position. As the person selected to do the job, Mr Laing is paid what is attached to the post, which is clearly identified in the Establishment of the Government of Jamaica (GoJ): a salary range of $3,032,763.00 to $3,605,002.00 per annum, with travelling allowance of
$1,697,148.00 per annum if in possession of a motor vehicle or $678,864.00 per annum without a motor vehicle.”

The Ministry said the initial assignment of six months was later extended by one year with effect from April 1, 2020, following assessment of Laing’s performance by the Authority.

Lerone Laing, CEO of the Toll Authority. (Facebook @Lerone Laing)

According to the ministry, the fact that Laing served as advisor to the Minister of Transport and Mining between March 2018 and September 2019, has nothing to do with the reality that he emerged as the most suitable candidate after a standard selection process and is therefore serving as the CEO of the Toll Authority as a result of that selection.

Said the Ministry: “At the time, the Toll Authority was slated to undergo a transformation process, which would see to the reintegration of the Toll Authority into the Ministry. This consideration contributed to the recruitment process manifesting as outlined.

“It should also be noted that these details were provided by the Ministry as responses to questions emailed by a reporter from the newspaper. The Ministry answered the various questions posed through correspondence dated November 3, 2021 and December 2, 2021.”

The details of the Ministry’s response were included in the article.

“Based on these facts, the Ministry reiterates that this story published today is misleading in its argument that the CEO of the Toll Authority does not meet the requirements for the job,” the Ministry said.

“The Ministry of Transport and Mining reassure its partners and the wider public that its processes and operations, as well as those of the Toll Authority are above board, and will remain so.”


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