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MP engages non-existent company as CDF consultant .... officials refuse to release documents

Published:Thursday | September 18, 2014 | 12:00 AM

OFFICERS OF the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) yesterday refused to make public documents submitted to it which show that a member of parliament (MP), who is a member of the governing People's National Party, sought approval to contact a dummy company.

Moveta Monroe, head of the CDF unit, told The Gleaner yesterday that the documents in question are for administrative purposes.

Members of the CDF committee yesterday agonised over whether to accept the document as they met in a conference room at Gordon House, the seat of the nation's Parliament. The meeting was held in the conference room due to the fact that another committee meeting was taking place in the parliamentary chamber.

Fraud and chicanery

Claims of fraud and chicanery were made during the sitting after it was revealed that the MP entered into a contract for the hiring of a non-existent company for consultancy.

The documents submitted to the CDF, according to Monroe, show that the contract for consultancy was signed on July 11, 12 days before the company was incorporated.

"It is not a legal issue. It is a moral issue, it is an integrity issue ...," Monroe said.

"Had we had a parliamentary committee meeting on the 15th of July and this document was brought here, what would the position have been?"

The Gleaner was not allowed access to the documents, which would, among other things, reveal the identity of the MP in question, that of the company, and the value of the contract.

MPs normally utilise a consultant to assist in the implementation of projects.

The ceiling for consultancy payment is $1.5 million.

Monroe told the committee that after the documents were submitted by the MP, indicating that a company would be providing the consultancy services, the unit requested registration documents, which revealed that it was only incorporated on July 23.

This is despite a stamp being given to the unit with a July 20 date.

Monroe, however, noted that the MP subsequently submitted a revised document.

The dates, she said, are now aligned and a new project proposal has been submitted to the unit.

However, Monroe said that the situation could have been worse had the committee unknowingly approved the original project.

The committee, which was chaired by Mikael Phillips, agonised over whether to give its stamp of approval to the new project, but in the end decided to seek legal advice on the matter.

- Daraine Luton