Jamaica Says New Oversight Panel Won’t Intrude on Contractor General’s Office

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - May 3, 2012

Above: Information Minister Sandrea Falconer (FP)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

A newly-appointed Independent Oversight Panel will not intrude on the authority of the office of the Contractor General, according to Senator Sandrea Falconer, Jamaica’s Information Minister.

The announcement of the new panel, which will provide oversight for three major infrastructure projects being undertaken by the Works Ministry, had raised concerns that the office of Contractor General Greg Christie would lose its independence.

“They are offering oversight, and I don’t see this, at all, as interfering with the job of the Contractor General,” Falconer said Tuesday. “To me, they will strengthen the ability of the government to ensure that these major projects, in terms of what we have promised the people of Jamaica, grow the economy and create jobs.”

According to Falconer, the approach of the panel “is not one where we are competing with what the Contractor General does, or are ignoring the Contractor General,” she said. “The two can work hand in hand, and I see it as a good thing for Jamaica.”

The three projects to be overseen by the panel include the North-South link of Highway 2000, the Gordon Cay Container Transshipment Hub and the Fort Augusta Terminal.

In a release, Christie’s office expressed “grave and serious concerns” about the government’s decision to embark upon the North-South Link and the Container Transshipment Hub.

The OCG had recommended against moving forward on the projects.

Part of the OCG’s objection to the two projects came due to the fact that they were initiated pursuant to unsolicited proposals submitted by the government, a mechanism the OCG said “should be excised from the government’s procurement guidelines and should not form the GOJ’s preferred basis for engaging contractors to undertake multi-million dollar investment opportunities or projects.”

The panel includes Professor Gordon Shirley, R Danny Williams and Everton McDonald. Falconer said members of the panel would be reimbursed for expenses only.

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