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CDF committee to share minutes of meetings with OCG

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS Senior staff reporter dunkeya@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, February 15, 2014    

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PARLIAMENT'S Constituency Development Fund Committee has given in to a request from Contractor General Dirk Harrison for copies of the minutes of all meetings of that body to be submitted to him.

This, despite protests from controversial South West St Catherine Member of Parliament Everald Warmington, who chaired the committee under the previous Jamaica Labour Party Administration.

The letter, dated January 28 and addressed to speaker of the House Michael Peart, was read into the records of the committee during what was said to be its final meeting on Tuesday by temporary chair Colin Fagan.

In the letter, the contractor general stated that his office, pursuant to section 4 of the Contractor General's Act, has been monitoring the implementation of the fund's projects.

"Consequently, the OCG is requesting that the CDF parliamentary committee submit a copy of the committee's minutes within 30 days following each meeting. This will be a standing requisition for which the committee is being required to provide copies of the referenced minutes on a scheduled basis, or as often as the parliamentary committee convenes a meeting," he said.

It is not the first time such a request has been made by that office.

In 2010, Warmington — then chair of the committee — rebuffed a similar request from then Contractor General Greg Christie. That request followed on a media report that exposed controversial decisions by the committee.

"The contractor general's office is a creature of Parliament. Parliament is not a creature of the contractor general," Warmington stated then.

Tuesday, he was no less defiant.

"May I say that that department is a creature of Parliament and he doesn't (dictate) to the speaker. He attempted it before when Mr Chuck was speaker. I don't know why he wants a standing requisition for minutes," Warmington quarrelled.

But Fagan countered that "it is a public document".

"In view of that, I don't think the committee would have any quarrel with that. That shouldn't be too difficult to submit a copy of the minutes to the contractor general," Fagan emphasised.

But Warmington insisted that the committee was "under no obligation" to honour the request.

He was, however, outnumbered.

This latest request comes in the wake of a report published by the OCG stating that an audit of projects financed by the CDF since 2012 revealed 63 projects, implemented through the National Works Agency, of which it was not aware.

That finding, which was vigorously disputed, has since seen the OCG revising the number of undisclosed projects from 63 to 48. Committee Chairman Dr DK Duncan, at a meeting of the body earlier this year, had maintained that there were no secret projects. He was backed by Warmington, who declared that all projects brought before the committee were contained in the minutes of its meetings.

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