JIS News

The Office of the Contractor General (OCG) has offered to assist the Ministry of Transport and Works and the Jamaica Urban Transit Company’s (JUTC) efforts to prevent any future breaches of the Government Procurement Procedures Handbook (GPPH), as it relates to the awarding of contracts.
This was outlined by Contractor General, Greg Christie, in a letter to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Alwin Hales, which was disclosed to journalists by Transport and Works Minister, Michael Henry, during a media briefing at Jamaica House today (Dec. 18).
The Contractor General’s letter was in response to correspondence received from Dr. Hales, in which he drew Mr. Christie’s attention to a number of contracts entered into by Metropolitan Management Transport Holdings (MMTH), which had previous responsibility for public passenger service in the Kingston Metropolitan Region (KMTR), and that entity’s successor, the JUTC, between 1998 and 2004. Dr. Hales, in his letter, suggested that the Contractor General would probably wish to probe these contracts, which may not have been competitively awarded.
Mr. Christie, while commending the efforts of the Ministry, indicated that his office did not see the need to deploy “scarce resources to go back 10 years… to investigate suspected breaches of the GPPH at the JUTC, when its just concluded five-month investigation has concluded that there are… breaches… taking place at present.”
Instead, Mr. Christie recommended that “effective, corrective and remedial measures in the form of appropriate governance and accountability structures” be implemented to avoid any recurrence of the breaches. In this regard, he said, the OCG “stands ready and willing to assist.”
Meanwhile, in a statement read earlier in the briefing, Mr. Henry indicated that he had put measures in place to ensure transparency, while keeping an eye on the operational needs of the bus company.
These measures include having the Ministry’s internal auditors examine all procurements this year; having the Ministry’s oversight body reviewed with the aim of tightening up on the monitoring of its agencies and entities; as well as directing the JUTC Board to meet and respond to allegations levelled by the OCG. Additionally, he said, the resignations of members of the JUTC Board’s Finance and Procurement Committee, under whose watch the departmental breaches occurred, were accepted.
“Likewise, I accepted an offer from the Acting President, Mr. Bindley Sangster, to go off on leave until the question of any likely criminal prosecution had been answered by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). However, with the Board being mandated to arrange for a smooth transition at the helm of the company’s management, the Board decided to request of me to have Mr. Sangster remain in office until December 31, when adequate arrangements would be in place to run the company and deal with the interim emergencies,” Mr. Henry said.
Earlier this week, DPP, Paula Llewelyn, who received a copy of the Contractor General’s report on investigations into breaches surrounding the awarding of a number of contracts by the JUTC, indicated that she was unable to make a ruling on the findings. As such, she referred the report to the office of the Commissioner of Police, for his office to initiate investigations.

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