Ready next week
Source says delayed UDC property sale report expected when Senate sits againSaturday, April 27, 2019
A long-delayed report from the Integrity Commission on the sale of a piece of beachfront land in St Ann has now been finalised and should be tabled in Parliament when the Senate meets next week.
The Jamaica Observer was reliably informed last night that Senate President Tom Tavares-Finson's response to Opposition senators at the last sitting of the Senate on March 22, that the report would have been tabled yesterday, was not without merit.
It is understood that having completed its work, the Integrity Commission had sent copies to respective parties and was awaiting their response to its findings. That process is expected to be completed prior to next Friday's Senate sitting.
The issue caused some disquiet in the Senate yesterday as Opposition members sought to encourage Tavares Finson to demand that the report be tabled by next Friday, and to summon the Integrity Commission to Gordon House, if they failed to do so.
The issue was first raised by Opposition member Senator Lambert Brown, at the last meeting of the Senate with Tavares-Finson confirming that he had to await the commission's timing in tabling the report. However, yesterday the Opposition went a step further by suggesting that Tavares-Finson demand the tabling of the report at the next sitting, or the Integrity Commissioned be summoned before Parliament to explain why, if they fail to do so.
There is no indication that the Senate president has any authority to do so, and he insisted that he would have to await the commission's timing in tabling the report.
Senator Brown yesterday raised the issue after the clerk read the announcements, which excluded the report.
“Today, I ask whether the Integrity Commission has forgotten the address of Parliament,” Brown stated.
“It is clear that some people believe that they are bigger than the responsibility they have to the people of Jamaica,” the Opposition senator insisted.
He question whether the Integrity Commission's “billion-dollar” budget was worth it, “when they showed nothing short of contempt in their conduct”.
“It is a shame and a disgrace; it is indeed nothing short of contempt for the Parliament. That's how I see it,” Brown said.
He was supported by Senator K D Knight, who went further by suggesting that the president exert pressure on the Commission to release the report by the next sitting. However, Senator Knight conceded that he was not sure that the Standing Orders gave the president such powers.
He said that the delay could be interpreted as a “cover up”, ministerial intervention or failure on the part of the Senate to exercise its authority given by statutes which are approved by the Senate which could be interpreted as the Senate abdicating its responsibilities.
Another Opposition senator and a former president, Floyd Morris, suggested that the commissioners be summoned to Gordon House if they fail to produce the report by the next sitting.
However, Government Senator Charles Sinclair cautioned both Brown and Knight that they were making assumptions about the Integrity Commission without any evidence to support them.
“Listening to the comments, there is an attempt to cast motive on the commission, and I think you are both going down a very dangerous road,” Sinclair said.
The Observer understands that the report concerns the sale of beachfront land in St Ann to a purchaser on condition that the land and the beach be developed, instead of another purchaser who was willing to pay the full price without any conditions.
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