First Look

NIA comments on Spalding Market issue

National Integrity Action Limited | 2013-04-16 00:00:00

The reported position of Prime Minister Mrs. Portia Simpson-Miller, and her Cabinet, to await the outcome of the OCG's probe before it acts is, in NIA's view, unacceptable. The Cabinet should review its position in the light of the following circumstances:

By his own admission, Mr. Azan, without the involvement of the Clarendon Parish Council, and in violation of established Government procurement policy, procedures and regulations, and other laws did:
•    personally and illegally 'select' the contractor, Mr. John Bryant;
•    'authorize' Mr. Bryant to illegally construct shops on the Parish Council's land; and
•    permit rents for the shops to be paid by tenants directly into his own Constituency Office.

Moreover in response to questions in Parliament, the Minister of Local Government admitted,
“Richard Azan blundered when he became involved in the unauthorized construction and illegal rental of the 10 shops at the Spalding Market.”

Further the Minister correctly indicated, “Under no condition can a member of parliament issue instructions to encroach on property owned by the state without due process, so I will admit that an error was made.”

NIA has also noted that the April 14 edition of the Sunday Gleaner newspaper carried a specimen of a "cash" rent receipt, in the sum of "$10,000", dated "September 6, 2012", bearing a stamp in the name of one "Richard Azan, J.P., Clarendon", which was purportedly issued to one of the tenants.

Additionally, the same edition of the Gleaner newspaper, and at least one (1) other Media House, Nationwide News Network (NNN), have both raised suggestions that Mr. Bryant is the same contractor who is currently constructing Mr. Azan's house, despite Mr. Azan's previous statement to NNN that he had no relationship with Mr. Bryant.

No one can reasonably deny that these reported circumstances and developments, some of which have emerged since the issue of NIA's April 12 Media Statement, have raised extremely serious questions of probity and propriety regarding, among other things, the purported use of one's public office and treatment of public property.

When taken together, NIA believes that they warrant not only the OCG investigation currently underway, but as well the Prime Minister's immediate removal of Mr. Azan from public office pending the conclusion of the said investigations.

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