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20 parliamentarians can have contracts with Gov't

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 05, 2014    

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TWENTY parliamentarians have received exemptions from going into contractural arrangements with Government ministries and agencies as individuals, or through companies they are involved with, since January 2012.

Seventeen parliamentarians were named by the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) as being exempted up to September 2012, and checks by the OCG revealed four contracts which were awarded during 2012. However, the Jamaica Observer sought to obtain more up-to-date information from Gordon House, which added three more parliamentarians exempted up to December 2013. However, the OCG was unable to verify additional contracts, as its investigations were limited to calendar year 2012.

According to the information supplied by the OCG, at least four contracts were awarded up to the end of 2012, for which information was available. These ranged from purchasing stamps for the Customs Department to providing transportation for the official visit to Jamaica of the Archbishop of New York, Dr John Sentamu, in 2012, in commemoration of the island's 50th anniversary of Independence.

The full list of parliamentarians exempted up to December, 2013 is:

Mikael Phillips (North West Manchester) and Jolyan Silvera (Western St Mary), exempted in February, 2012; Senator Mark Golding, Senator Noel Sloley, former Senator Arthur Williams and Gregory Mair (North East St Catherine), March, 2012; Senator KD Knight and Senator Floyd Morris, April, 2012; Andre Hylton (East St Andrew), Fitz Jackson (South St Catherine), Dr Andrew Wheatley (South Central St Catherine) and Arnaldo Brown (East Central St Catherine), May, 2012; Christopher Tufton and Edmund Bartlett (East Central St James), June, 2012; Colin Fagan (South East St Catherine) and Damion Crawford (East Rural St Andrew), July, 2012; Mike Henry (Central Clarendon) and Lloyd B Smith (Central St James), September, 2012; Senator Sophia Fraser Binns, November, 2013; Senator Nigel Clarke and Senator Alexander Williams, December, 2013;

A number of the parliamentarians were exempted on more than one occasion by the Ethics Committee for their involvement, with additional entities seeking contractual arrangements with the Government. Dr Tufton was exempted on three occasions in June and July 2013; and Mikael Phillips, Senator Sloley and Dr Wheatley, twice.

The four contracts awarded during 2012, which were listed by the OCG were: Jackson's Dentyne Limited contracted by the Customs Department to purchase stamps for the department at a cost of $885,445 in January and for $809,410 in March; and a contract for printing at a cost of $390,250 for Tax Administration of Jamaica (TAJ) in August; Sloley's JTL Tours provided transportation for the visit of the New York Archbishop at a cost of approximately $1 million to the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB); and Mike Henry's LMH Publishing provided "Crayons Count Initiative Books" for Early Childhood Institutions through the Early Childhood Commission, at a cost of $688,500 in September.

However, only one of these contracts involved any form of tender, which was Dentyne's printing contract which went through limited tendering at the TAJ.

The available information on the reasons for the exemptions showed:

Phillips' exemption in February 2012 involved his position as managing director for both Island Signs Outdoor Advertising and 1 Media Limited; Golding's exemptions were as a director of the Mona Rehablitation Foundation and a partner of the law firm, Hart Muirhead Fatta;

Senator Sloley, as a director of Jamaica Tours Limited (JTL), and Lisport Realty which provides property rental; Arthur Williams as a partner in the law firm, Williams & Young; Mair as a partner in Desmond Mair Insurance Brokers Limited;

Senator Knight as a partner in the law firm, Knight, Junor and Samuels; Senator Morris as CEO of FE Morris International Consultancy Services (FEMICS); Andre Hylton as CEO of Andre's Auto Limited and Auto Solutions Consulting Limited; Dr Wheatley as managing director of Price Tech Limited; Arnaldo Brown as principal and partner in the law firm, Brown & Coy, and principal and partner of Sandside Farms Limited and Romeo Brown Distributions and Logistic Services; Dr Tufton as a director of CNT Global Limited; Fagan as a director of Docuplus, a document and copy centre which provides services such as photocopying, printing and graphic designing;

Crawford as owner and proprietor of Yard Travel Limited, a hotel booking company; Henry as Chairman/Director of LMH Publishing, LMH Retail Limited and LMH Retail MoBay Limited; and Lloyd B Smith as chairman/CEO of Western Publishers Limited.

Information on the detailed connection of the other parliamentarians was not available.

Senator Fraser-Binns, a lawyer with her own practice, was appointed to the Senate in May following the resignation of former president, Stanley Redwood, while Dr Clarke was appointed at the end of November to fill one of two vacancies on the Opposition benches created by the departure of Dr Tufton and Arthur Williams.

The Constitution of Jamaica, Section 41, provides, inter alia, that save for such circumstances in which an exemption is granted by the House of Parliament to a member of parliament, the seat of a member of either House shall become vacant, if: (a) the member becomes party to any contract with the government; (b) the member is a partner in a firm or a director or manager of a company which becomes a party to such a contract; or (c) the member becomes a partner in a firm or director or manager of a company which is itself a party to such a contract.

The OCG said that in its continued effort to secure greater transparency and probity in the award and implementation of government contracts to parliamentarians, it had the requested information on the exemption motions from the Clerk of the Houses of Parliament.

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