THERE is no clear date as to when Cabinet will meet to discuss anomalies unearthed by Contractor General Dirk Harrison into the construction of wooden shops at the Spaldings Market in Clarendon and the selection process for a preferred bidder to construct the 360-megawatt power plant.
The Spaldings Market affair places Richard Azan, junior minister in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, in the centre of controversy over the unauthorised construction and renting of shops at the site.
The contractor general has also raised red flags over Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell's and the Office of Utilities Regulation's (OUR's) involvement with the process of selecting a preferred bidder for the construction of the energy plant. Both reports were tabled in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, and the contents have triggered an outcry, including calls for the ministers to resign.
But yesterday, minister with responsibility for information, Sandrea Falconer, told journalists at yesterday's Jamaica House press briefing that Government was not prepared, at this time, to address the concerns raised by Contractor General Dirk Harrison in his reports that were tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.
"Before we go into questions, I just want to say, we know that you are very anxious to get reactions from this Administration to the contractor general's report tabled in Parliament yesterday. The prime minister and the Cabinet have not yet had a chance to review and discuss the report fully. In addition, the two ministers featured have asked for more time to review the report and in the case of one minister to consult with his lawyers," Falconer said just before opening the floor for questions.
"I am not able to entertain questions on this matter today and as soon as the reviews have been done we will update you," she added.
Asked why the prime minister was not briefed when copies of the report were disseminated on Monday prior to their tabling on Tuesday, Falconer said "that's not the case," suggesting that the prime minister and other key officials had not been privy to the contents of the report prior to it being tabled.
"The report was tabled in Parliament yesterday (Tuesday). The prime minister got her copy of the report late yesterday afternoon, the Cabinet has not met, the matter has not been before Cabinet, I will say nothing further on the matter," Senator Falconer said.
Apart from the prime minister, the contractor general said copies of the report on the Spaldings market were issued to, among others, Azan; Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn; Auditor General Pamela Munroe-Ellis; and chairman of the Clarendon Parish Council, Scean Barnswell.
Yesterday, an adamant Falconer would not budge, when pressed for information.
"You can shout all you want, I refuse to answer any more questions. Once the prime minister and the Cabinet have reviewed the matter we will comment. You need to go and ask the contractor general when the reports were sent, when they were sent to Parliament, when they were sent to the minister responsible, not to the prime minister; the prime minister received her copy of the report yesterday," she told one particular journalist.
Asked whether Cabinet would meet before the end of the week to discuss the issue, she said, "I can't give you a date right now."
"The Administration will never disregard the Office of the Contractor General, but I am sure you can appreciate that we need to review the report, we need to have discussions among ourselves and then we will update the nation," Falconer added.
In the meantime, Minister Paulwell has rejected the conclusions of the contractor general in relation to the process to procure the supply of 360 MW of power to the national grid. According to Paulwell, the conclusions are not grounded in fact, but instead, are based on an egregious lack of understanding of the process which the OUR had embarked on to recommend a preferred bidder.