JDIP findings point to poor project management and implementation
Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
DESPITE THE report of a forensic audit into the multimillion Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP) indicating disregard for government procedures for project implementation, the Parliamentary Opposition has suggested that there were no acts of crimiminality in the execution of the project.
"What we have found in some areas may be some degree of mismanagement, but we did not find any misappropriation ... there was no misappropriation," said Karl Samuda, the Opposition Spokesmaan on transport, works and infrastructure development.
His comments came after Dr Omar Davies, the Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, told the House of Representatives that the audit found "wanton disregard" for government procedures for project implementation, administration and management.
A defiant Samuda said "it is human to err ... especially when one is anxious coming in as a new government ... ."
Samuda was a member of the Jamaica Labour Party administration which negotiated the loan agreement with the Chinese Government and began the implementation of JDIP while it held state power in 2009.
"If you have to blame us, blame us for our over-enthusiasm," Samuda said in Parliament yesterday.
He asserted that had JDIP not been started, the country's infrastructure would be in such a "disgraceful" state "that nobody would want to look at us as a serious investment destination."
The National Works Agency (NWA) and its former CEO Patrick Wong bore the brunt of the criticisms in the audit report that was tabled in the House of Representatives.
In one of the more damning findings, Dr Davies, who tabled the report, said the audit found instances where variation orders were "several times the value of the initial contract."
"A specific example given (by the auditors) was of contract RW-003 where the original sum was $126M but was increased to $543M through the addition of two projects by variation orders," Davies told Parliament.
Kroll Consulting, the Canadian firm that conducted the audit, was even more pointed in its criticism of the former NWA CEO.
"With a choice of staying within budget or acquiescing to stakeholders, Patrick Wong chose to ignore the budget in favour of the stakeholders," the Canadian auditing firm Kroll wrote in its executive summary.
"As a result, JDIP expenditures were approximately US$20m and US$75m over budget in fiscal year 2011 and 2012 respectively," the audit firm continued.
Dr Davies said the report has been sent to the Auditor General and the Contractor General "so that those officers can take whatever action they consider appropriate."