SEAGA… president of the PSOJ
THE Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ has called for answers, not excluding the resignation of whomever is responsible for the debacle that transpired this week which saw the publication of an Integrity Commission (IC) report referring Prime Minister Andrew Holness to the director of corruption prosecution, although a ruling against prosecution had already been made from January 12.
“The citizens of Jamaica have a right to know the truth. And if the truth is that the processes of the Integrity Commission lack efficiency or competence [then] we must know, and consequences must follow, including but not limited to the resignation of whomever is responsible,” the Metry Seaga-headed organisation said on Friday.
The PSOJ says the commission must make full disclosure as to why it failed to reveal the ruling made by the Director of Corruption Prosecution Keisha Prince-Kameka, on January 12, that the activities outlined in the report did not amount to prosecutable offences.
The revelation of the ruling came on Thursday, two days after the report, which had sent the nation into a frenzy and drew international attention. Prince-Kameka said no charges are to be brought against Holness in relation to a conflict of interest accusation levelled at him over two contracts awarded to a company owned by a friend of his 14 years ago when he was education minister.
“The consequences of that egregious act [failing to reveal the ruling] has resulted in irreparable damage being occasioned to the Office of the Prime Minister — the highest elected office in the country — by virtue of the public opprobrium which understandably resulted from the partial disclosure,” the PSOJ said.
Further, the organisation said, incalculable damage has been imposed on Brand Jamaica. “Additionally, the office of the Integrity Commission has been brought into disrepute by the careless or intentional omission, which is lamentable given its integral role in holding public officials to the highest standard of integrity and ethics, and the need to build and maintain public confidence in that entity’s work,” the organisation said.
It said the commission should give “swift and thorough response as to the reason for the insufficiency of reporting on the conclusion of this investigation”.
At the same time, the PSOJ said the Integrity Commission must remain an independent and non-partisan institution, and that its operations should be conducted in a manner that will promote transparency and accountability at all times.
In its report the Integrity Commission said its director of investigation had probed allegations that contracts had been awarded to Westcon Construction Limited between February 2007 and November 2009, and that there was a connection and/or relationship between Holness and the proprietors, Robert Garvin and Donovan Simpson.
On Wednesday night, after the Integrity Commission report was publicised, Holness rejected the conflict of interest accusation: “I strongly disagree with the findings of the Integrity Commission regarding conflict of interest based on mere association,” the prime minister said, adding, “The failure of agencies to comply with various procurement rules cannot be attributed to me in any capacity, and we note that the report does not make such a conclusion.”
He said it has been a long-standing practice that Members of Parliament are asked to recommend local contractors to undertake works in their constituencies as a practical matter.