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OCG to probe controversial bookmarkers given to children

Saturday, August 11, 2012

THE Office of the Contractor General (OCG) has requested information from the Ministry of Education regarding the "alleged" procurement of bookmarkers issued Monday — Independence Day — to schoolchildren with the image of Education Minister Ronald Thwaites superimposed on a photo of the Jamaican Flag.

In a release yesterday, the OCG said it had taken the decision following complaints from the parliamentary Opposition regarding the matter, as well as a news reports yesterday, which alleged that the acting permanent secretary in the ministry had failed to disclose the cost of producing the souvenirs, as well as the identity of the printery which was awarded the contract.

The ministry will be asked to :

* state the tender procedures utilised to execute the procurement;

* name of persons at the ministry who were involved in the development, approval and/or issue of the relevant tender and procurement instructions;

* give the printing instructions and the printing template that were issued by the ministry to the contractor or contractors who were invited to tender for the award of the contract;

* the identity of the contractor or contractors who were invited to tender for the award of the referenced contract; and

* the value of the contract that was awarded by the ministry.

The OCG's letter, which was copied to the minister, asked that the permanent secretary comply with the terms of the requisitions by 12:00 pm next Friday.

The Opposition Jamaica Labour Party said yesterday that it welcomed the OCG's inquiry.

The JLP said that in making the request for the OCG's intervention, through its spokesperson for education and human resource development, Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert, it felt that a probe would go a far way in revealing whether taxpayers' dollars were well spent and, if not, who is culpable.

The Opposition said it was concerned that the Ministry of Education, which has significant responsibility to promote understanding and appreciation of Jamaica's national symbols and emblems, could have made such a grave error.

"The Opposition awaits the findings of the OCG, and is confident that the OCG will, in this instance, exercise his powers of investigation in his usually precise and determined manner," the JLP said.

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