Jam official faces legal battle over CHEC projects

| 19/06/2012

Greg-Christie-2_w445.jpg(CNS): A Jamaican government committee has refused to give the country’s contractor general information he has requested over three major capital projects, two of which involve China Harbour Engineering Company. Greg Christie said Tuesday that he was disturbed by the government’s decision to challenge his right to ask for reports on the major developments in the courts. The contractor general said that his right to ask for the information was set out in law and was in line with the work of his office over the last 27 years. Christie also pointed out that the move to refuse to give him information comes in the wake of revelations about the World Bank’s ban on CHEC.

CHEC is also still in negotiations with the Cayman government to build the George Town cruise berthing facilities, and despite the revelations about the World Bank, both the Beijing-based firm and the Cayman premier have denied any wrongdoing on CHEC's part.

Last week McKeeva Bush said, “CIG does not see cause to believe that CHEC is legally or morally responsible for the actions which led to the original debarment of China Road and Bridge Corporation by the World Bank. There is therefore no indication that valid grounds exist for discontinuing our dealings with CHEC.”

In a release issued by his office Tuesday morning Christie said his request for the reports was made in an “effort to secure, among other things, transparency" of the Government Independent Oversight Panel (IOP) interventions and deliberations, “to provide the requisite statutory oversight, of the projects, for and on behalf of the taxpayers and people of Jamaica.”

The contractor general's office in Jamaica provides the same function as the Office of the Auditor General in Cayman, which is also now being asked by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to "assist" the premier with the local port project .The premier is being asked to work with both Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick and the chair of the Central Tenders Committee, Nick Freeland, to get the cruise facilities back in line with international best procurement practice.

Meanwhile, despite giving the panel two extensions in time for it to respond to his requests for information, Christie said Jamaica’s attorney general had written to the contractor's office to challenge the validity of the law under which the OCG has been discharging its statutory mandates for the past twenty-seven years.

Christie said that in his letter the AG had told the contractor general that members of the IOP did not share his opinion as to the propriety of the requisition, and in light of the divergence of views, the IOP was seeking judicial review of his request.

“The OCG regards the Administration’s latest move as not only an abuse of the judicial process and an obvious delay tactic, since the laws regarding the OCG’s actions are unequivocally clear and well settled in their import, meaning and judicial interpretation, but it also views the Government’s conduct as a vivid indication that, irrespective of what the law states, the current Administration appears not prepared to conduct the country’s public contracting affairs in accordance with international best practices in procurement, good governance, transparency and accountability,” Christie said in his media statement.

Maintaining he was well within the law, the contractor general pointed out that his office was obligated by parliament to monitor the award and the implementation of government contracts to ensure the contracts are awarded impartially and on merit and indicated that the move by the AG could amount to suggesting that 90% of the OCG’s daily work activities for the past twenty-seven years was illegal.

Describing the move as “highly suspicious and unprecedented”, heaccused government of seeking to place impediments in the path of his office’s work and mandate. He pointed to the commitment given by Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller last year that if the Peoples National Party formed the next government she would “strengthen the OCG”, as he pointed to the recent disclosures about CCCC and CHEC.

He said that CHEC was engaged in controversial sole-source and non-competitive tender based negotiations with government on two of the three investment projects that he was seeking information on.

Despite claims made by CHEC that the ban is not a reflection on the firm but the World Bank system, Christie pointed out that the ban could have been lifted and the primary issues which concern the World Bank are the presumeddeficiencies in the Chinese firm’s parent company’s corporate governance policies and practices. 

Regardless of the move by the Jamaican government, Christie said he intended to continue the lawful discharge of his office’s mandate to “ensure probity, propriety, transparency, accountability and value for money” in Jamaica’s government contracting processes.

Category: World News

Comments (11)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Greg Christie is a man of distinction.   Very few come here, like Mr. Swarbrick, match his dedication.  Wish that we had more MEN like this.   Seems to me we have too many "little boys" trying to act like men.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The elephant in the room is corruption.

     

    This must be dealt with sooner or later. Sooner would be better.

     

    Attorney General? How are the investigations coming? Soon?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Could it be that certain politicians in Jamaica have still not understood the availability and uses of ATMs in Vegas even after a recent trip to Jamaica to exchange information on procurement.

    • BORN FREE says:

      Sounds very familiar!! Why can't we, Cayman, demand the same? We need answers about our governments (McChavez's) relationship with CHEC, as well as much more information. We should demand the information, & demand answers to all the troubling questions! 

  4. Anonymous says:

    SOUNDS FAMILIAR ? I still can"t believe that he Chineese are still in the picture. Which part of NO McKeewa don'T understand…

    • Anonymous says:

      McChavez does not have enough education to understand anything except the dollar signs and the promise of dollar signs.  The same thing goes for "Foolio", who, with all his alleged education, could not find a well-paid job until he rode into politics on McChavez' coattails.  That is why we are in the sorry situation and we will remain there if we do not have these thrown out of power.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Mac, are you here, there or where? Open your trap on this.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Jamaican Politrix at works.  Each of the major parties, JLP and PNP are both the same thing.   Each one promises a new era of accountability, transparency and good governance, adn check out what they do immediately after taking up their posts – yep, same old Anancy tricks.   Reminds you of any other nearby country?

  7. jsftbhaedrg says:

    You could substitute the names involved in this article for those involved in Cayman's deal and it would be a mirror image.