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Shocking $41m 'sound' bill - Golden Jubilee spend raises new questions

Published:Sunday | December 23, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Yet to extinguish the fire surrounding the $60 million spend to purchase sport utility vehicles for its ministers, the Portia Simpson Miller-led Government is flung into a new controversy concerning stewardship of the public purse.

Information is emerging that just shy of US$500,000 was spent to provide technical services at the Jamaica Golden Jubilee Village at Independence Park in July and August.

The approximately J$41 million contract was awarded to the St Andrew-based company Image On by the Ministry of Youth and Culture, which organised the event.

In addition, the contract was not subject to scrutiny by the Office of the Contractor General because the services fall under those deemed to be excluded in accordance with the 2010 edition of the Handbook of Public Sector Procurement Procedures.

However, Robert Bryan, who was project director at the Jamaica 50 Secretariat, is arguing that the country received value for money.

Bryan told The Sunday Gleaner that the technical services were provided for the entire month of July and August 1 to 6, so that was money well spent.

"The services (were) related to the provision of PA (public address) systems, lighting and video screens," said Bryan.

He noted that this was part of the overall cost for Jamaica 50 which was reported at just under J$700 million.

However, the US$450,000 contract for technical services was revealed only last week by the National Contracts Commission (NCC) in the July edition of its monthly media release of contracts approved for state agencies.

The NCC document also revealed that the company was chosen by limited tender.

Bryan explained that only two companies were involved in the tender process and that the other company's quotation was twice what was eventually paid to Image One.

Earlier this year, the Government had to do damage control after it was revealed that it spent £1 million (J$140 million) to host 'Jamaica House' in London during the Olympics.

Although no breakdown of how the funds were spent was provided, the Government's chief spokesperson, Sandrea Falconer, was unwavering in the claim that the money was not wasted.

Falconer also pointed out that the Government had to find only £850,000 from its coffers as £150,000 came in the form of sponsorship.