JIS News

The Government has taken on board, a suggestion from the Opposition, to provide a clear legal definition of the term “strategic investments”.

This was disclosed by Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Omar Davies on Tuesday, July 2, as he closed the 2013/2014 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives.

During his contribution to the 2013/2014 Budget Debate, Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Holness, recommended that the Government bring to Parliament, a law surrounding strategic investments.

He said the move is imperative as Cabinet prepares to consider a submission to amend the Contractor General Act, to limit the involvement of the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) in certain investment projects at the pre-contract stage.

“We have taken on board the comment/suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition. What we would seek to do is provide a definition for a strategic investment (to be) put before Parliament,” Dr. Davies said.

Attorney General, Patrick Atkinson, on May 29, announced the amendments to the Contractor General Act.

He explained that there were “several strategic investments at hand” and several others to come, and “when such investment opportunities are in the formative and feasibility stages, confidentiality is usually demanded by those seeking to do business with the Government”.

Dr. Davies, in his closing statements on Tuesday, stressed that the move “is not an attempt to exclude the Contractor General from carrying out his responsibility in monitoring contracts, but it will preclude certainly, when there are potentially sensitive investments being discussed, these investigations being carried out even before any agreement has been arrived at.”

He said it is important to also convey to the rest of the population that “it’s not a matter of this is Government money and therefore be subject to scrutiny as such.”

“These are persons we are trying to attract. We don’t know that we have had them yet, so you can’t begin to investigate the possibility of an investment and so there is going to be a definition of strategic investment as the backdrop towards the amendments,” Dr. Davies said.

Contact: Latonya Linton