Table JDIP audit now, Samuda warns Davies

Published: Tuesday | October 2, 2012 Comments 0

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

WITH THE report of the audit into the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP) completed, Opposition Spokesman on Transport and Works and Infrastructure Development, Karl Samuda, is threatening to raise ruckus if it is not tabled in the House of Representatives today.

"In the interest of transparency and good governance, I am expecting him (Transport Minister Dr Omar Davies) to use tomorrow's (today's) Parliament as an appropriate place and time to disclose the content of the report," Samuda told The Gleaner yesterday.

He added: "If he does not, I am going to be making a very serious statement in respect of how this matter is being handled."

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Works, Audrey Sewell, has said the ministry received the audit report from Canadian firm Kroll Consulting in early September.

But late yesterday, Phillip Paulwell, leader of government business in the House, told The Gleaner that the JDIP report would be tabled in Parliament next Tuesday.

Tame summary

Government sources have described the executive summary of the report as tame, saying it does not appear the auditors have unearthed any major findings.

The forensic audit, which had first been announced by former Prime Minister Andrew Holness, is seeking to determine whether any acts of fraud had been involved in the JDIP and the Palisadoes Shoreline Protection Project.

Holness had called for the audit following a damning report by Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis on the JDIP.

The auditor general's report led to the resignations of Patrick Wong, former chief executive officer of the National Works Agency, and subsequently, then Transport and Works Minister Mike Henry.

Yesterday, Samuda said the publication of the audit report was in order to "put this matter to rest once and for all".

"It is important that the public be made aware of exactly what is contained in this report and whatever action is taken must be spelt out clearly," Samuda said.

He added: "I am, therefore, expecting that the minister will present this report tomorrow. As far as I am aware, there is nothing to prevent him, the matter has been discussed at the level of the Cabinet."

Time to reveal findings

In the meantime, Susan Goffe, chair of human rights group Jamaicans for Justice, speaking at a Gleaner Editors' Forum yesterday, said it was high time the country be made aware of the findings. She noted that "it is coming up to a year since it has been ordered".

Carole Narcisse, chair of the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition, questioned the wisdom of the Government engaging in further contracting with China Harbour without the benefit of the audit.

"It is absolutely astounding that we are proceeding in partnerships with an entity which is a subject of the audit before the audit has been completed," Narcisse said, while also speaking at the forum.

China Harbour will this month undertake work on the North-South link of Highway 2000, a deal agreed earlier this year.

Two weeks ago, Edmund Bartlett, chairman of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of Parliament, called for the report of the forensic audit into the US$400-million JDIP to be tabled in the House forthwith.

"We would urge that the report be made public as soon as possible and, certainly, we would hope by the next sitting of the House," Bartlett said, during a meeting of the PAAC.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com

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