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KINGSTON — The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) has commended the Prime Minister, the Hon Andrew Holness, for his recent actions in relation to the operation of the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP).

In a release on Saturday (November 19), the Chamber's President, Milton Samuda, said that it was "pleased" with the PM's response to the issue, and congratulated him on his "decisive action" in light of the report of the Auditor General tabled in Parliament last week Tuesday.

"The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce views the Prime Minister's action as in keeping with an acceptance of responsibility and the enforcement of accountability, two pillars in any construct of good governance," the JCC said.

"We now urge a thorough investigation to set the JDIP right and to hold accountable anyone found in dereliction of duty," the released added.

The Chamber also commended Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis and her Staff "for doing their public duty fearlessly".

Prime Minister Holness took over temporary control of the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP) Friday, to review and improve the operating, accounting, reporting and general management structures of the project.

The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) said in a release over the week-end, which followed an emergency Cabinet meeting on the issue, that "services of an independent consulting firm are being procured, to provide oversight and quality assurance to determine value for money".

The release explained that the Independent Consultant will operate from OPM and provide technical advice on project prioritization, evaluate the various work activities, review payment certificates and work orders, as well as provide project management oversight of JDIP.

"The Prime Minister will give ministerial direction for the JDIP, during this period. No new work orders will be issued for works which have not already been approved and funded," OPM reported.

In addition, to pave the way for improved governance arrangements and management safeguards at the National Works Agency (NWA), the Minister of Transport and Works has requested, received, and accepted the resignation of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Patrick Wong, with immediate effect. An interim head will be named shortly.

JDIP is a major undertaking by the Government to significantly improve the road network, to enhance the quality of life of Jamaicans and stimulate economic development. The programme resulted from an innovative partnership between the Governments of Jamaica and China, in which China has provided funding, through its Export Import (EXIM) Bank of China. The partnership has made available US$400-million (approximately J$36-billion) for a programme of works to be effected islandwide on roads and road furniture, such as bridges, drains and traffic systems, over a period of five-year period commencing February 2010 and ending in 2015.

 

By Balford Henry, JIS Reporter & Editor