First Look

NIA dissatisfied with Government response to OCG Report on 360 MW Project



National Integrity Action Limited | 2013-09-25 00:00:00

National Integrity Action (NIA) views with extreme concern the findings of the Office of the Contractor General’s report regarding the 360 Megawatt Project, in particular findings that there was “improper intervention” by Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Phillip Paulwell and that preference was given in facilitating the receipt of the EWI bid to the extent that “the playing field was not level.”

NIA supports the considered view of the Contractor General that “any transaction which is being undertaken must be consistent with Government Policy and/or premised on certain fundamental tenets and underpinning, which will secure transparency, fairness and probity.”

NIA wishes to remind the Honourable Minister Paulwell and the Most Honourable Prime Minister that the majority of Jamaicans feel that their Government is run by a few big interests, as do the majority of citizens elsewhere in respect of their governments (2013 Global Corruption Barometer, Transparency International). Confidence in government and buy-in to projects of national import may only be achieved by strict adherence to clear guidelines and processes of transparency.  Informality in procedure and lack of transparency may lead to further loss of confidence in the Government and mega-projects. The Corruption Perception Index consistently reflects the view of Jamaicans that their Government is highly corrupt (Corruption Perception Index, Transparency International).

As such, the NIA calls for the Cabinet and the Prime Minister to act on the recommendation of the Contractor General to exclude the EWI bid from the Megawatt Project award process.  On account of the information provided, the acceptance of the EWI bid was at best informal and conducted outside of clear and proper guidelines.  Its inclusion in the process goes against good governance.

Furthermore, the NIA joins in the call for the release of the final bidders’ evaluation report done by consultants, Mott MacDonald. Given the apparent discrepancies and lack of transparency in the bid process, sharing this information may provide a critical step forward in rebuilding the legitimacy of this important project.

The NIA also supports the recommendations of the Contractor General that the Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR) take appropriate steps to amend its guidelines “to take into consideration any possible emergency or urgent situations which may arise as a consequence of unforeseen external factors” with the appropriate checks and balances. Also, that the Parliament move “to initiate the necessary legislative action and develop an appropriate framework with attendant mechanism, to reserve the independence of Regulatory Bodies” including appropriate sanctions to be applied in instances when Public Officials are found to have compromised the independence of their respective Offices.

In the further interest of good governance, the NIA continues to call for the strengthening of Government transparency and accountability frameworks. We call for Campaign Finance Reform to remove secrecy and suspicion from the funding of political parties and politicians, and for a Single Anti-Corruption Agency with appropriate investigative and prosecutorial powers to better detect and convict on high-level cases of corruption.

 




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