Tue | Sep 19, 2017

OCG refers three to DPP for possible sanction following probe into Jamaica 50 spending

Published:Tuesday | April 4, 2017 | 4:15 PM
Former Director of Tourism John Lynch

Jovan Johnson, Staff Reporter

Former director of tourism John Lynch is among three people Contractor General Dirk Harrison has referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions for possible sanction arising from a probe into the $749 million dollar celebrations to mark Jamaica's 50th year of independence in 2012.

Along with Lynch who once headed the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) are: Robert Martin, the former permanent secretary of the Culture Ministry and Delroy Gordon, the executive director of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) who died suddenly last month.


IN PHOTO: Delroy Gordon

In a report tabled in the House of Representatives Tuesday, Harrison said Lynch, Martin and Gordon were referred because they failed to report to the Office of the Contractor General (OCG), certain contracts that they were mandated to submit for scrutiny. 

The report said the OCG found no conflict of interest in the contract procurement for the celebrations by any official of the ministry, JTB or JCDC.

The activities had comprised a local component and an overseas element that focused mainly on the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

The Jamaica 50 project was conceptualised in 2009, under the stewardship of Olivia Grange, the Culture Minister at the time.


IN PHOTO: Culture Minister Olivia Grange

The project was completed under Lisa Hanna's leadership following the change of government in December 2011. 

But Harrison said his office's probe encountered limitations which did not allow it to determine whether value for money was obtained from the contracts.

"The Jamaica 50 Secretariat failed to prepare or preserve  documentation for several procurement opportunities which were undertaken. This has had the effect of impairing the OCG's efforts in determining whether all the contracts were awarded transparently and on merit," read a section of the 263-page document. 

It said in one instance, the culture ministry was able to produce procurement-related documentation for only 18 of the 32 contracts which were requested. 

"Remarkably," the OCG said, "the ministry advised that no contract agreements/documentation were prepared for the remaining 14".


IN PHOTO: Lisa Hanna

The OCG launched the probe after Hanna raised questions about expenditure she inherited in January 2012, eight months before the independence celebrations.

At the time she said up to 70 per cent of the budget was spent on the launch and fireworks. 

OTHER FINDINGS:
- The $8 million contract between the Culture Ministry/Jamaica 50 Secretariat and Logistics Management Services for the provision of logistics works at Jubilee Village for the period July 23, 2012 to August 7, 2012 was "irregular and improper". Contract signed after work done. 

- The OCG has seen no evidence to account for $116 million of the $749 million which was stated to have been expended on the hosting of the local and international component of  the Jamaica 50 celebrations.

- The OCG is of the opinion that the actions of the ministry/Jamaica 50 Secretariat in undertaking the award of contracts for the Jamaica 50 Celebrations displayed scant regard for certain established standards of accountability and transparency.

- The local component of the Jamaica 50 Celebrations reflected cost overruns in the amount of $72 million. 

SOME RECOMMENDATIONS:
- An immediate review of the accounting, procurement and public administration management practises at the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, JCDC and the JTB be undertaken by the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives, the Auditor General and the Ministry of Finance

-The OCG recommends that the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, JTB and the JCDC implement an effective and efficient record keeping/filing system which will aid in maintaining proper documentation.

-The OCG urges the Ministry of Finance to invest in the inclusion of a 'value for money assessment test' that forms a part of the procurement process. This test must be administered when undertaking public sector procurements and will aid in ensuring that Public Bodies obtain the maximum benefits from the goods and services acquired with the resources available.