JIS News

Due to pressing engagements locally and overseas, Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding will only be available up to March 12, to testify at the Commission of Enquiry into the extradition of Christopher Coke, his attorney Queen’s Counsel Hugh Small, has said.

Reading from a prepared statement during Tuesday’s (March 1) sitting of the Commission, Mr. Small said while the Prime Minister wishes to avail himself to testify, he had slate of overseas engagements to attend to beginning March 14.

Additionally, he said, Mr. Golding had other obligations involving regional and bilateral meetings that require him to travel during May.

“The Prime Minister will be available up to the end of next week if the Commission is able to complete the hearing of the evidence of the other witnesses. He respectfully asks for your understanding of the dilemma and that you recognise that his obligation to attend to the business of the people of Jamaica and the machinery of Government cannot be deferred,” Mr. Small said.

The attorney noted further that March 31 marks the end of the fiscal year for the Government and that there are certain tasks that must be carried out in time for the start of the new fiscal year.  Chief among them is the final preparation for the Estimates of Expenditure, the opening of the new Parliamentary year and the tabling of the 2011/12 Budget. 

He said these matters will require the full attention of Cabinet, particularly that of Mr. Golding as Chairman of the Cabinet. “The demands of his office are real. The duties he has to perform on behalf of the people of Jamaica as Prime Minister and the obligations he has to the machinery of Government are real,” Mr. Small stated.

He suggested that given the time constraints, the Commission should consider extending the daily hours of sitting, to complete the work by March 31. 

Chairman of the Commission, Queen’s Counsel Emil George, agreed with the suggestion to extend the sittings to meet the March 31 deadline and even proposed Saturday sessions.

He also offered to take the Prime Minister’s evidence early, but Mr. Small said it might be more fitting for the Prime Minister to give his testimony after that of Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Hon. Dorothy Lightbourne.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to be the last person to give evidence at the Enquiry, which started on January 17. The Governor-General has extended the sitting of the Commission and the body is scheduled to present its report at the end of the month.

The Commission of Enquiry is scheduled to continue today (March 2) at the Jamaica Conference Centre with the testimonies of Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda and Minister Lightbourne.