Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
Parliamentarian Edmund Bartlett was hopping mad yesterday after a key technocrat did not attend a scheduled meeting in Gordon House to discuss the proposed sale of government shares in the Clarendon Alumina Partners (CAP).
Declaring that the divestment of government shares in CAP is an important prerequisite to an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, Bartlett, who chairs the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee, yesterday rebuked Hilary Alexander, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mining, for not appearing at the meeting.
Agitated that the committee was "disrespected" by the accounting officer, Bartlett and other committee members vowed to craft a strongly worded letter to CAP.
In addition, Bartlett said the committee would submit a report to Parliament on the matter.
The permanent secretary was invited, along with chairman of CAP, Dr Vin Lawrence, and managing director of CAP, Winston Hayden, to deliberate on the proposed divestment of the government shares.
However, Bartlett argued that while the CAP chairman notified the committee in advance that he would be overseas, Alexander tendered an apology at the eleventh hour.
Hayden, who was the sole representative from CAP, reported that the permanent secretary was abroad.
She apparently tendered an apology on Tuesday, but the committee was not in a mood to accept the late notification.
Bartlett said he had a meeting with the portfolio minister, Phillip Paulwell, yesterday morning and no indication was given that the permanent secretary would not be attending the meeting.
Noting that the committee would not have a difficulty if it had been informed ahead of time that the permanent secretary could not attend, Bartlett said the approach by the accounting officer in the ministry was unacceptable.
"This committee takes the strongest exception to the manner in which CAP has treated us today (yesterday)."
Committee member Mike Henry said it was clear that the committee was disrespected.
According to Henry, who is the member of parliament for Central Clarendon, "The Supplementary Estimates in relation to programmes we are going to examine later on were also subject to the selling of CAP, which would be supporting the central fiscal space of the Government."
He argued that the committee needed an urgent response on the divestment of CAP.
Bartlett told Hayden that the committee would proceed with queries about CAP in the absence of the leadership of the company at the level of policy.
The committee told Hayden that he would have to return at a later date with the other principals of CAP.