24 October 2008 | Jake Kanter
The Jamaican prime minister has given five public bodies the power to bypass procurement laws.
Bruce Golding granted the exemption on small, specified transactions because the public bodies are at times required to act "expeditiously or in circumstances that cannot be efficiently carried out within the government procurement procedures". The bodies are: Air Jamaica, the Port Authority of Jamaica, Petrojam, Jamaica Tourist Board and Jamaica Vacations.
Contractor general Greg Christie condemned the move: "The concept of permitting public bodies to do as they please in determining when, how, to whom and in what values government contracts should be awarded and to give public officers an unfettered hand in spending the taxpayers' money, cannot, in the office of the contractor general's view, be countenanced in any country that values the rights of the taxpayer," he said.
Golding responded that it was not the function of the contractor general to set rules. He explained the provision will be made only in "defined" cases and all transactions will still be subject to independent scrutiny.