Jamaica Contractor General refers Cabinet to DPP

-showdown over contracts reaches new heights

(Jamaica Gleaner) Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn says her office will apply the usual professional and objective standards in analysing and researching the unprecedented referral of Cabinet for prosecution by the Office of the Contractor General (OCG).

Llewellyn told The Gleaner yesterday that she would be assembling a team to examine the OCG’s referral, but noted that she could give no specific timeline as to when her office would arrive at an opinion on the matter.

However, the DPP pointed out that her office would try and complete its work as soon as possible, but stressed that she had a duty to be thorough and to peruse all the material.

“We have not yet perused it. It is fairly voluminous and we have to peruse all of the material and, as we do with every other referral from all entities to this office, we are taking our usual objective, professional approach, which involves analysis of the material, research of the law, then we send back a response to the OCG and, because it is a high public interest matter, send something to the media,” Llewellyn said.

Referred for prosecution

On Wednesday, Craig Beresford, acting contractor general, formally referred the Cabinet of Jamaica to the DPP for criminal prosecution.

Beresford, in a media release, indicated that the referral was made as a result of the Cabinet’s failure to comply with the lawful statutory requisitions relating to, among other things, at least four major projects which are pertinent to the OCG’s monitoring and investigative mandates.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Andrew Holness has described the current impasse between the Government and the anti-corruption body as “untenable”. He said the situation has led to extreme positions without any sign of a resolution.

In a media release yesterday, Holness said the stand-off could undermine the integrity of the country’s anti-corruption system.

“It is untidy and reflects poorly on us internationally for the Government to ask the courts to limit the powers of scrutiny of its own anti-corruption agency,” Holness said.

In that regard, Holness wants the Portia Simpson Miller administration to withdraw its current action in the courts against the OCG.

The opposition leader observed that the OCG fell under the legislative and policy direction of Parliament.

He noted that “if the Government of Jamaica has a difficulty with the OCG’s interpretation and use of its powers and feels that such powers were obstructing national development, then the administration must bring laws to Parliament to redefine the powers of the OCG and not wimpishly hide behind the courts”.

He added: “The Opposition is, therefore, calling for the Government to withdraw its actions in the courts against the OCG and take to Parliament the legislation it sees fit to redefine the powers of the OCG.”

Holness also urged the Cabinet to formulate in collaboration with the Opposition a policy on strategic investment and development.

He said the Opposition would not support any actions that undermined or weakened the OCG.

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