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OCG probes Jamaica 50 expenditure

Saturday, September 01, 2012    

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ALL procurement-related expenditures for the recent Jamaica 50th Independence Anniversary celebrations are to be investigated by Contractor General Greg Christie.

Christie, who yesterday indicated his intention to probe by way of a statement to the media, said his decision was spurred by the “receipt of allegations of irregular and improper Government spending and “nepotism”, in respect of the Independence celebrations in the United Kingdom, as well as what has been reported to be the “public disquiet which has arisen over the alleged lack of information regarding the Government’s expenditures on the said United Kingdom celebrations”.

According to the contractor general, the review by his office “will also seek to ascertain whether ‘value for money’ was obtained in the referenced procurements.

He said the OCG has written to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, Robert Martin, to request documents to enable it to review the expenditures.

The letters — dated August 24 and 29, 2012, respectively — have requested a copy of the approved budget for the Jamaica 50 Anniversary celebrations, together with a full accounting in respect of each budget line item to include the particulars of all contracts that were awarded, the names of the respective contractors, the values of the respective contracts, the procurement methodologies that were utilised and the locations at which the contracts were performed.

In addition, the ministry has also been specifically required to particularise all Jamaica 50 goods, services and works procurement expenditures which were associated with the country’s United Kingdom Independence celebrations, inclusive of the following: the alleged £1,000,000 sterling which was expended on the London events; air transportation expenditures from Jamaica to the United Kingdom and back; and accommodation expenditures within the United Kingdom.

Yesterday, Christie said the ministry was required to satisfy the requisitions by next Friday, September 7, 2012. Both letters to the permanent secretary were copied to Youth and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna and Robert Bryan, the project director of the Jamaica 50 Secretariat. The contractor general said in the interest of public transparency, the OCG will table the results of its review in Parliament when it resumes in mid-September.

The contractor general’s indication comes even as Opposition Spokesperson for Tourism and Travel Service Development Ed Bartlett is insisting that Friday’s press conference chaired by Information Minister Sandrea Falconer, breaking out expenditure for London 2012 promotional activities “has left the people of Jamaica with more questions than answers”.

Bartlett said a breakdown of the near £1 million in expenditure “did not include costs for ministers and their delegations such as airfares and hotel accommodations”. He also noted that costs taken on by the Jamaica High Commission in the United Kingdom on related activities were not included and called on Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeil and Information Minister Sandrea Falconer to tell the people of the real cost for the London 2012 promotional activities and the marketing strategies, if any, which underlined the massive spending.

Bartlett, who is chairman of Public Administration and Appropriations Committee of Parliament, has also pledged that the matter will have to be carried to House in the continued quest to get the truth and nothing but the truth.

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