MONTEGO BAY, St James — Government minister and member of parliament for South St James Derrick Kellier has defended his decision to recommend persons, including his younger brother, Martin, for contracts with the State-run National Works Agency (NWA).
“My brother, Martin (Kellier) was not the only one that I have recommended for work, so I don’t see what the fuss is all about. He is on the Government contract list, registered, and has duly paid his taxes and his registration fee and all that is required, and so he is entitled to work,” Kellier told the Jamaica Observer last night. “I would tell that to anyone, even the Queen of England. He is a citizen of this country.”
Kellier, who is also the minister of labour and social security, was reacting to yesterday’s announcement by the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) that it would commence a formal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the award of Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Government contracts by the NWA to contractors that were allegedly selected by him, one of which is a company owned by his younger brother.
“Based upon official NWA documents that are currently within the possession of the OCG, and which were sequestered during a recent OCG visit to the NWA’s St James Parish Office, at least one of the alleged contracts, in the sum of $270,000, was awarded in December 2010 by the NWA, upon the specific written instructions of one ‘Derrick Kellier, CD, MP, South St James’, to ‘M & K Heavy Equipment Hireage Co Ltd’,” the OCG said in a release yesterday.
The younger Kellier, who is said to the major shareholder in the company and who is also the ruling People’s National Party councillor for the Welcome Hall Division in the constituency of South St James, could not be reached for a comment yesterday.
But the elder Kellier told the Observer that although he made the recommendations to the NWA for his brother and other contractors to get work, he did not make the selections.
“I did not select anyone; I only made recommendations like anybody else would. Selections are made by the works agency (NWA). It is standard practice for people in Parliament to make recommendations. You can recommend anyone you want to recommend. If they want to choose one over those that you recommend, that is their business,” he explained.
The Government minister added that he was not perturbed by the decision of Contractor General Greg Christie to launch a probe into the matter. “It is standard practice for the OCG to check complaints, anything that comes to his attention; that is his business,” he stressed.
According to the OCG, his preliminary enquiry into the matter was triggered by a written complaint and an allegation that was received from a “concerned citizen” via e-mail on July 20.
The OCG said it is also in possession of other official NWA documents which established that another CDF Government contract, in the sum of $840,000, was awarded in November 2011, by the NWA, to the said M & K Heavy Equipment Hireage Co Ltd for the execution of certain specified works, at certain specified locations.
“The specified works and locations match exactly the works specifications that one ‘Derrick F Kellier’ had previously communicated to the NWA, in writing, as works that he wanted the NWA to execute,” said the OCG.
Additionally, the OCG said it is in possession of documents from the NWA that details the particulars of what appears to be contracts which were to be awarded to 22 named contractors, inclusive of the younger Kellier under an Independence Work Programme for South St James on July, 22, 2012.
That contract refers to patching works to be undertaken on the Anchovy to Mt Horeb; Duketts to Welcome and Fairfield to Point roads in the sum of $200,000.
The OCG said its investigation will seek to:
• establish the particulars of the contracts that have been subjected to the alleged arrangement;
• find out whether the prescribed Government of Jamaica Procurement Procedures and CDF guidelines were complied with in the award of the referenced contracts;
• ascertain whether the contracts were awarded in compliance with the standards that are prescribed by Section 4 (1) (a) of the Contractor General Act; and
• find out whether any other laws or regulations were contravened having regard to the alleged circumstances which surround the award of the contracts.
Upon the completion of its investigation, the OCG said, it will submit a formal report of its findings to the Parliament.