EMBATTLED state minister and member of parliament for North West Clarendon Richard Azan is expected to break his silence today on the Contractor General's report, which noted that his actions in the construction and rental of wooden shops at the Spalding Market in the parish were tantamount to being politically corrupt.
General secretary of the ruling People's National Party (PNP), Peter Bunting, said Azan needed to consult with his attorneys before making a public statement on the matter.
Yesterday, members of the PNP hierarchy tried to steer clear of addressing the matter during a press conference to announce details of the party's annual conference scheduled for this weekend. However, when pressed to say how long the country should expect to wait for an update on the matter, Bunting said this should be forthcoming by today.
"The report came out on Tuesday afternoon, and this is Thursday, not even 48 hours, so I don't think an unreasonable amount of time has passed," he said, explaining further that two reports from the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) were released simultaneously with hundreds of pages.
"So I am saying that I am expecting that by tomorrow (today) the public will get a statement from Minister Azan," he insisted, reiterating that Azan has been consulting with his attorneys before making a statement on the matter.
Contractor General Dirk Harrison has referred both Azan and mayor of May Pen Scean Barnswell to the director of public prosecutions (DPP) in relation to the illegal construction of the shops.
Harrison has asked the DPP to consider whether Azan's conduct, in the illegal construction of the shops, gives rise to "a conspiracy to defraud the revenue of the Clarendon Parish Council and/or any other criminal acts".
Quizzed about the issue of governance raised in the report, Bunting said: "We are very concerned, but I am not going to pre-empt this statement which will come from the minister."
According to Bunting, the Administration remains committed to stamping out corruption.
Bunting pointed to what he described as the tangible action that the party has taken in relation to its own internal affairs in establishing an integrity commission to screen candidates for suitability at both the national and local government levels.
He further drew attention to the establishment of the Major Organised Crime and Anti-corruption Taskforce and the investigative and intelligence resources at its disposal to fight corruption.
"Because at the end of the day, to the greatest of respect to the Office of the Contractor General, it is usually police investigations that will ultimately lead to convictions, and this will be the most powerful deterrent," he argued.
"We have established tangible mechanisms to bring persons who are guilty of corruption to book, whether it is administrative or criminal, if it arrives to that," Bunting added.
Meanwhile, PNP Chairman Robert Pickersgill also pointed to the party's commitment to being open to the media and to stamp out corruption.
"So don't think we are derelict to that," Pickersgill said.