Jamaica watchdog alarmed over CHEC contract
CNS): Jamaica’s contractor general has expressed alarm over the latest revelations regarding corruption in government over private sector contracts. According to comments in the Jamaican press, attributed to Patrick Wong, the former Chief Executive Officer of the National Works Agency, the government is choosing contractors, and Greg Christie said that, if true, it “depicts a very worrisome state of affairs” for Jamaica’s contracting system.” In a Gleaner article Wong had said that the selection of sub-contractors on the US$400 million mega-contract awarded to China Harbour and Engineering Company (CHEC) was guided by an “unwritten protocol” of political interference.
"The unwritten protocol was established by former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson that MPs must be consulted … The recommendations of the MPs were, therefore, considered in accordance with the unwritten protocol that existed," Wong states in the Gleaner article.
Christie stated that if what Wong has alleged is true it would confirm that there is a “systemic, irregular, widespread and potentially corrupt interference, by politicians, in the disbursement of scarce public financial resources to certain selected works contractors who may be aligned to the said politicians.”
Such an “unwritten protocol” would “significantly undermine the good governance principles of impartiality, fairness, merit, transparency, competition and value for money,” Christie added as he expressed his concerns in a statement Wednesday.
He said it invited the inescapable question as to whether the “protocol” was used to facilitate corruption in the form of ‘kick-backs’ from the selected contractors to the politicians. This, he believed was further evidence of "institutionalized corruption” in the country.
“The fact that a multi-billion dollar state contract, such as the JDIP contract, was awarded without competition to CHEC, which is a foreign contractor, and was then subsequently sub-awarded by CHEC to several local sub-contractors without competition, and outside of the remit of the OCG, should now be cause for concern for all Jamaicans, particularly having regard to Mr Wong’s assertions that the selection of the said sub-contractors was politically inspired and engineered,” he added.
This is the same company with which the Cayman Islands government has signed an MOU in connection with a proposal to construct the much anticipated cruise berthing facility in George Town. Although there has been very little information in recent months about the progress on the project, throughout the talks the Cayman premier has stated that CHEC will be sub-contracting local workers for the job and not importing labour.
Related article on CNS:
Mac insists CHEC to do port (29 June 2012)
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