Op-Ed: Why Jamaica’s Cabinet Must Respond to the Contractor General

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - January 7, 2013

By David Rowe
Op-Ed Contributor

THE CONTRACTOR GENERAL is a Jamaican official whose job is to prevent corruption in the awarding of government contracts.

Back-scratching contracts have been a significant problem for more than three decades in Jamaica. Many Jamaican private sector companies have become outrageously prosperous by contracting consistently with the government of Jamaica, often without appropriate auditory oversight.

The Contractor General is by statute empowered to monitor government contracts to make sure that they are awarded impartially and on merit.  The statute specifically makes the Contractor General independent of the government and insulated from political interference.

Further, the Contractor General is vested with the power of a Supreme Court Judge, and can issue summonses to any person who fails to comply with any lawful investigative requirements.

The Office of the Contractor General returned to the headlines in Jamaica last week when it referred Jamaica’s Cabinet to the Director of Public Prosecutions for criminal proceedings because of an allegedly deliberate and obstructive lack of cooperation by the Cabinet on information requests concerning a number of major projects.

This has caused a political uproar in Jamaica. The mere thought of Jamaican politicians facing criminal proceedings is sacrilege. Yet American, British and Canadian politicians go to jail for ethics violations with regularity. Why should Jamaican politicians be immune from their own laws?

The Constitution of Jamaica, like those of most Caribbean nations, guarantees the Separation of Powers. Why should our respective Cabinets be ably to flout the Rule of law?

Many of the donor agencies which help to  keep Jamaica financially afloat require strong anti-corruption laws, transparency and legitimacy. And donor money should not be used to fund government contracts whose wholesomeness has not been determined.

It is in the long-term interest of Jamaica’s Cabinet to comply with the mandatory statutory anti-corruption requirements of the Contractor General Act and respond to the OCG’s information requests.Parliamentary sovereignty and executive privilege should not be used to violate the law. This has been the case since the Magna Carta.

By complying with the Contractor General Act, Jamaica can move its way of doing business into the 21st century. Both the People’s National Party and the Jamaica Labour Party in Jamaica have historically campaigned on the basis of corruption-free administrations and reforms. Unfortunately, reform never seems to occur. Ultimately, the business of Jamaican government always returns to the status quo.

Note: the opinions expressed in Caribbean Journal Op-Eds are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Caribbean Journal.

David P Rowe is an attorney in Jamaica and Florida and a law professor at the University of Miami School of Law in Coral Gables, Fla.

Popular Posts

The 10 Best Overwater Bungalows in the Caribbean, From Aruba to Belize

Overwater villas at Caribbean resorts aren’t just a novelty — they’re also among the most luxurious and beautiful accommodations you can stay in. And while all of the bungalows perched above the waves have their charms, some stand out among […]


The 10 Best Luxury All-Inclusive Resorts in the Caribbean, From Antigua to Jamaica

all-inclusive hammock cove

All-inclusive resorts are more popular than ever, particularly in the Caribbean. The all-inclusive concept just keeps winning over travelers, who have been drawn to the ease, comfort and convenience of the concept. But the biggest thing within the space isn’t […]


The Bahamas’ Atlantis Paradise Island Just Completed a $150M Renovation

walking on the beach in nassau

A new eatery by Michelin-star Chef Michael White. A new-look casino. State-of-the-art guest rooms and the Caribbean’s first Shake Shack.  The Bahamas’ Atlantis Paradise Island resort has officially completed a $150 million resort-wide renovation, a significant project that included a […]


Related Posts jamaica edmund barttlett

Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett Talks Tourism, Post-Hurricane Beryl

The aftermath of Hurricane Beryl has included the predictable amount of exaggeration and misinformation about the extent of damage in impacted Caribbean destinations. Phrases like “completely destroyed” were thrown about with abandon. Jamaica was one of the islands that many […]


New Grand Cayman Waterfront Project Launches Construction 

cayman catalina bay

A new waterfront condo project has launched construction in the Cayman Islands.  It’s called Catalina Bay, and it’s a group of both two and three bedroom residences, all with panoramic waterfront views of Grand Cayman’s North Sound.  The property, set […]


American Airlines Is Adding Flights to a New Island in Turks and Caicos

salterra turks

The island of South Caicos is about to get a major boost with the debut of Marriott’s highly-anticipated new Luxury Collection resort, Salterra. And just in time for the property’s debut, it’s about to get a whole lot easier to […]


SUBSCRIBE!

Sign up for Caribbean Journal's free newsletter for a daily dose of beaches, hotels, rum and the best Caribbean travel information on the net.


No. Thank You