Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
IN WHAT is being described as an unprecedented move, Transport, Works and Housing Minister Dr Omar Davies has stepped in to prevent China Harbour Engineering Company Limited (CHEC) from being cross-examined by a parlia-mentary oversight committee.
Davies, in a letter to the chairman of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), Edmund Bartlett, described as a "bad precedent" plans by the committee to summon CHEC to address the vexed issue of fluctuation claims by subcontractors under the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP).
In his letter dated October 1, Davies cautioned that the "summoning of CHEC to appear before the committee would set a bad precedent".
Bartlett told committee members yesterday that Davies' intervention and commitment to provide the PAAC "with full and complete responses to your questions" was unprecedented.
COMMITTED TO RESPOND
Davies, in his letter, committed to meet with "all parties in order to be able to provide you and other members of the PAAC with full and complete responses to your questions".
For months, committee member Mike Henry has been hammering home the point that if fluctuation had not been budgeted for under JDIP, the Government would be forced to find the funds to settle claims from subcontractors.
Henry even suggested that this could affect the Government's agreement with the International Monetary Fund.
The committee had invited CHEC to its sitting yesterday to provide members with an explanation on payment concerns by subcontractors; however, during deliberations, Henry raised concerns about the timeline for Davies to submit answers to the committee.
A verbal clash then ensued between Henry and Dr Dayton Campbell, who said the committee should not be detained by Henry's comments, adding that other members accepted Davies' proposal.
"This committee is overloaded in defence of the Government," Henry charged.
Davies had said he would undertake to meet with subcontractors once he had received full details on their claims.
Bartlett observed that Davies had broken new ground when he committed to provide the requisite answers to the committee.