In the interest of securing greater transparency and probity in the award of Government contracts to Parliamentarians, the Contractor General, on January 12, 2006, wrote to Parliament to advance for its consideration and response, three (3) proposals which would seek to secure the disclosure of the particulars of Government Contracts to which Parliamentarians and other "related persons" (i.e. a spouse, mother, father, sister, brother or child of a Parliamentarian) are parties.
The Contractor General's letter was formally directed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and to the President of the Senate. Formal copies of this letter were also directed to the then Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Leaders of Government and Opposition Business in both Houses of Parliament.
Specifically, Parliament was respectfully requested to consider establishing effective mechanisms to ensure that any information which it now has, or in the future may have, regarding the following, was promptly made available to the OCG, namely:
- "Any Government contract in respect of which a Member of Parliament is currently a beneficiary of a Section 41 (of the Constitution of Jamaica) exemption from Parliament, or in respect of which a request for such an exemption is currently pending;
- Any future Government contract in respect of which a Member may apply to Parliament for the grant of a Section 41 exemption, or in respect of which a Member may otherwise become subject to the provisions of Section 41;
- Subject to proof of prior knowledge on the part of a Member who is a relative of a Related Person, any Government contract in respect of which that Related Person would have become subject to the provisions of Section 41 of the Constitution if he/she were in fact a Member of Parliament".
Parliament was advised that it was the intention of the Contractor General to "commence the routine monitoring" of all of the foregoing classifications of contracts.
It is important to record that by way of letters, which were dated January 16, 2006 and May 29, 2006, respectively, the then Prime Minister, the Most Honourable P.J. Patterson and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Bruce Golding, wrote to the Contractor General to express their support for the subject proposals of January 12, 2006.
By letter, dated May 31, 2006, the Clerk of the Houses of Parliament (Acting) responded to the first of the OCG's proposals. The Clerk provided the OCG with extracts of the Section 41 motions which were approved for eight (8) Parliamentarians between September 2003 and July 2005. No contract details were however provided.
Section 41 of the Constitution of Jamaica requires a Member of Parliament to vacate his seat if he or any firm in which he is a partner, manager or director, becomes a party to a Government contract. However, every Parliamentarian is entitled to seek an exemption, from Parliament, from the application of Section 41.
The Clerk also advised the OCG that "the House of Representatives has recently established an Ethics Committee, to which it is intended that all (Section 41) Exemption Motions will be referred".
By letter, dated June 20, 2006, the Speaker of the House of Representatives responded to the second of the Contractor General's proposals in positive terms. In his June 20 letter, the Speaker assured the Contractor General that Parliament "for the future, ... will be in a position to provide you with the details that you are requesting. ... Details of any contract entered into by a Parliamentarian with the Government will be available for your perusal".
Further to the foregoing, on April 20, 2007, the Clerk of the Houses of Parliament advised the Contractor General that "the Ethics Committee took the decision to recommend to the House that, as a matter of course, copies of exemption motions approved by the House of Representative should be sent to your Office. The Report of the Ethics Committee which contained this recommendation was adopted by resolution of the House on Tuesday, March 27, 2007".
The Clerk also reported that "Members (of the Ethics Committee) were of the view that the Contractor General Act placed the onus on Public Bodies, not on individuals, to provide information on contracts into which they had entered".
In keeping with the Resolution of the House, the Clerk, under cover of her letter of April 20, 2007, disclosed to the Contractor General the particulars of the Exemption Motions which were considered by the newly established Ethics Committee of the House, and by the Senate, on behalf of five (5) Parliamentarians.
By way of letter which was dated February 18, 2008, the Contractor General wrote to the Clerk to the Houses and requested, inter alia, the provision of the particulars of any Exemption Motions which may have been approved under the provisions which are contained in Section 41 of the Constitution, in favour of any Parliamentarian, "since your letter to me of April 20, 2007 was dispatched". By way of letter, which was dated April 14, 2008, the Clerk to the Houses wrote to the Contractor General in compliance with the referenced requisition.
To view a summary of the May 31, 2006, April 20, 2007 and April 14, 2008 Parliamentary Disclosures, inclusive of the extracts which were taken therefrom, please click on the relevant links below.
For particulars of calendar year 2008 Exemption Motions, please see page 86 of the OCG's 2008 Annual Report; for particulars of calendar year 2009 Exemption Motions, please see page 71 of the OCG's 2009 Annual Report; for particulars of calendar year 2010 Exemption Motions, please see pages 89 and 90 of the OCG's 2010 Annual Report; for particulars of calendar year 2011 Exemption Motions, please see pages 158 and 159 of the OCG’s 2011 Annual Report; and for particulars of calendar year 2012 Exemption Motions, please see pages 75 – 78 of the OCG’s 2012 Annual Report. To view any of the OCG's Annual Reports, please click here.