After nearly seven years in office, Jamaican Contractor-General Greg Christie is left wondering what role, if any, his office has in the daily workings of the Caribbean country’s government.
Mr. Christie’s comments came in a seven-page letter sent last week to Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller and the country’s opposition party leader Andrew Holness.
The contractor-general noted in his writings that a number of “specifically and carefully crafted” recommendations had been placed by his office before the Jamaican Parliament aimed at enhancing transparency and accountability in the public bidding and contracting process.
“Regrettably ... most of the referenced recommendations have not been effectively acted upon, nor have the overwhelming majority of them been materially implemented,” Mr. Christie wrote.
“While, as a country, we appear to remain apathetic or unwilling to proceed in a decisive, deliberate and expeditious manner with the requisite reforms to the country’s good governance structures ... Jamaica continues to be perceived, by the international commercial community, as well as by its bilateral and multilateral partners, as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.”
The body of the letter notes two specific instances where Mr. Christie claimed that his office’s legal mandate was being held up in court by the Jamaican government, for which he acts as a watchdog as it relates to public contracts and bidding processes.
Mr. Christie said responding to the legal challenges were taking up time and resources that his office needed to pursue its daily tasks. Some of the challenges, he said, spoke to areas that the office of contractor-general has maintained since it was formed 28 years ago.
“The time has come for the executive and legislative arms of the Jamaican state to publicly clarify precisely what role, if any at all, the office of the contractor-general should play within a national system of institutionalised and independent checks and balances, to ensure that government commercial transactions will withstand the highest levels of scrutiny and probity.”
The Jamaica Gleaner reported last week that Opposition Leader Holness backed the contractor-general and supported a full debate in parliament on his powers.
The Gleaner reported that Mr. Holness said it was not good governance practice for government to weaken a “critical agency of the state”.