The Transport and Works Minister Mike Henry has resigned.
In a statement late this evening Henry said: “In light of the ongoing attacks on the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP), which continue despite the Prime Minister and I having acted to address the issue, as the line minister, I take full responsibility for the issues which have arisen, and today tendered my resignation as Minister of Transport and Works with immediate effect.”
Henry continued: “There is nothing to hide about my stewardship of the JDIP, which is very important to the country, and I look forward to the conclusion of the ongoing investigations.”
However, Henry says he has not resigned as the Central Clarendon Member of Parliament, where he says he will now be focusing more of his energy at this time.
The Office of the Contractor General (OCG) today revealed that there were more troubling undertakings within Henry’s portfolio.
The OCG says there appeared to be serious irregularities in the procurement of $62 million dollars worth of office furniture with money from the Palisadoes Shoreline Protection and Rehabilitation Works Project.
According to the contractor general, the transport and works ministry and the National Works Agency (NWA) did not follow the Government’s Procurement Procedures in buying the furniture.
At the same time, there appeared to be confusion over who bought the five containers of furniture, now at the NWA’s St Andrew offices.
The OCG says at one stage, it was told by the NWA that the furniture was procured by China Habour Engineering Company, the entity with the contract for the multi-million dollar Palisadoes Shoreline Project.
But the OCG says the NWA also advised that the items were bought through an agreement between the NWA and its suppliers Stationery and Office Supplies Ltd.
Despite this, the OCG says the NWA provided other documents which revealed that the official quotation from Stationery and Office Supplies for the sale of the furniture to the NWA was billed to a customer named “J. Robertson”.
The contractor general said he found it curious that the quotation was neither addressed to the NWA nor to China Harbour.
The acting NWA CEO, Earl Patterson, has reportedly advised that the purchase of the office furniture was part of the ‘institutional strengthening’ component of the contract to China Harbour for the Palisadoes project.
The furniture saga comes only two weeks after the Auditor General raised deep concerns about the handling of the US$400 JDIP.
From unaccounted spending to unapproved spending, and the withholding of information by the National Works Agency, the Auditor General reported serious findings in her JDIP probe.
In all, the Auditor General outlined 12 adverse findings in her report including the failure to identify works for $23 million on a project the NWA said was satisfactorily completed.
Source: Jamaica Gleaner