JFJ Joins the OCG in Demanding Answers
Wednesday, May 02, 2012, Kingston, Jamaica – On the 27th of April and again on May 1st 2012, the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) issued strongly worded releases in response to the announcement in Parliament by Dr. Omar Davies of the establishment of an “independent contract oversight panel” to monitor three government projects which apparently the government intends to award despite reservations expressed by the OCG on the non-competitive nature of the process.
Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ) joins with the OCG in questioning how setting up this panel which bypasses “the established oversight authority which is expressly mandated by law to ensure that Government of Jamaica contracts and licences are void of irregularity, impropriety and corruption” is likely to result in “value for money, transparency, accountability, effective monitoring, and controls, while providing project evaluation and technical advice” as stated by Dr. Davies. We also join the OCG in demanding answers to the questions posed in the latest press release on the nature and scope of the proposed projects and the government’s responses to the proposals.
JFJ feels the establishment of this panel is a retrograde step by the Minister and the Government likely to result in the loss of all that has been gained in the past five years in-terms of transparency and accountability. We are clear that if there is a problem in the government’s procurement procedures which is delaying investment opportunities the solution lies NOT in bypassing accountability mechanisms – rather it lies in finding and implementing solutions within the ambit of the accountability framework.
JFJ is calling for a frank and comprehensive discussion in the public sphere of all the issues raised by the OCG and any related procurement and government contracting challenges. We must ensure that what is done on our behalf and in our names is open and above board and redounds to the economic benefit of Jamaica in the short, medium and long term. We must strengthen protections and fix any challenges or unproductive practices while ensuring transparency and accountability. We support the OCG’s call for the Government to “publicly affirm its unbridled commitment to not only internationally accepted best practices in public procurement oversight, but also to systems of accountability and open government, and to faithfully comply with the existing laws and regulations of the country, even as it pursues national economic development opportunities for Jamaica.