OCG concerned about contract extension
The Office of the Contractor General(OCG)is raising concern about a Cabinet decision to extend the registration of some contractors until February next year.
According to the OCG, the Jamaican Government might be infringing on the independence of the National Contracts Commission (NCC).
In a release today the OCG said it was uneasy about the Cabinet directive to the NCC which it described as a highly questionable, very dangerous and reckless act.
The OCG says the directive appears to have dictated that certain Government contractors whose registration certificates have already expired be deemed to be registered in their pre-existing categories and grades through to February 28 next year.
But the Contractor General Greg Christie believes the Cabinet is usurping the authority of the NCC which he says has the responsibility for such decisions by at least four sections of the Contractor General Act.
Christie says the NCC is an Independent Statutory Commission which does not report to the Cabinet or to any Ministry of Government and, therefore the Government cannot lawfully dictate to the body.
Christie says even if the NCC decides to act on the policy directive of the Cabinet and implement the moratorium, its actions could be called into question in a court of law.
Under existing NCC rules, the registration certificates of all Government contractors automatically expire one year after they are issued.
On the expiration all Contractors must seek re-registration from the NCC in order to legally qualify to bid for Government contracts worth more than $275,000.
The Contractor general argues that should the NCC go ahead and extend the moratorium it would not have done its duty to ensure that the applicant has met the prescribed requirements.
He further argues that as the laws stand, there is no provision for any such extension and that the moratorium could undermine the integrity of the process.
The OCG also says the reported Moratorium Policy Directive of the Cabinet appears to validate the registration of contractors whose registrations have already lapsed by operation of law, or those whose particulars have not been legitimately established in keeping with the NCC’s rules.
In a statement this afternoon the Contractor General said he has already outlined his concerns to Prime Minister Bruce Golding, as well as to the NCC.
Christie says while he cannot lawfully direct the Cabinet, the Government or the NCC as to how they should conduct their affairs his office will ensure propriety and regularity in the Government contracting process.