Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Political analyst wants contractor general to probe PNP 'agent fee' scandal

Published:Wednesday | August 31, 2016 | 8:16 AM
Chang ... the current allegation that the PNP took bribes from Chinese companies when offering contracts is similar to the Trafigura scandal that hit the party in 2006.

Sherine Williams, Gleaner Writer

Political commentator Kevin O’Brien Chang is calling for the contractor general to launch a probe into allegations that it was the practice for large contractors to pay money to the People’s National Party (PNP), while it was in government.

The allegations were reportedly made by PNP general secretary Paul Burke who told the party’s National Executive Council earlier this year that Chinese firms usually pay an 'agent fee' ranging from 1 per cent to 1. 5 per cent of their total project cost to the PNP.

Yesterday senior PNP member Dr Omar Davies publicly distanced himself from Burke’s allegations saying the statements by Burke could lead people to believe he was involved in such a scheme.

But despite Davies’ public statements, Chang says the contractor general should launch a probe into Burke’s allegations.

LISTEN: Paul Burke at www.soundcloud/JamaicaGleaner

Chang believes if Burke’s statements are true then Jamaican taxpayers have been robbed as the donations would have resulted in higher project costs.

He also says it could also mean contracts did not go to the lowest bidders, but those willing to pay bribes.

 

Political analyst, Kevin O'Brien Chang

Chang says the current allegation that the PNP took bribes from Chinese companies when offering contracts is similar to the Trafigura scandal that hit the party in 2006.

At that time, the Dutch company Trafigura Beheer, which had an oil-lifting contract with the then PNP administration allegedly gave a $31 million dollar donation to the party.

IN PHOTO: Dr Omar Davies

Chang says a formal probe must be done to determine whether the Trafigura affair was repeated under the last PNP administration.

In the meantime, executive director of the National Integrity Action, Professor Trevor Munroe, says the reports of the kickback practice are a direct contravention of the campaign financing law passed earlier this year.

The Parliament approved the legislation banning political donations from foreign entities, but the accompanying regulations are not yet enacted.