Prime Minister Andrew Holness Implicated in Jamaica Integrity Commission Report

Prime Minister Andrew HolnessPrime Minister Andrew Holness

 Jamaica’s anti-corruption agency, the Integrity Commission, sparked uproar across the society and region over its report on Wednesday, February 15, 2023, that referred the prime minister to the Director of Corruption Prosecution over government contracts awarded to a construction company between February 2007 and November 2009. The report calls for the Director of Corruption Prosecution to consider whether Holness breached the Contractor General Act and the Public Sector Procurement Regulations 2008 and the Corruption (Prevention Act).

The Commission cited a potential ‘conflict of interest’ on the part of Prime Minister Andrew Holness who awarded 10 contracts totaling almost JMD$22m (US$140,000) over a two-year period to Westcon Construction Limited when he was the Minister of Education. According to the report, only five of those contracts were reported to the Office of the Contractor General as required by law.

In its lengthy report, the commission said Westcon directors Robert Garvin and Donavan Simpson were ‘known to’ Holness for a period of more than 20 years and had business links with him.

Holness released a statement noting that the matter occurred nearly two decades ago, and that “at no time have I ever exercised influence on any process for the award of contracts. I strongly disagree with the findings of the Integrity Commission regarding conflict of interest based on mere association.”

The Prime minister admitted to knowing one of the contractors personally as a former employee in his constituency and personal business, and the other is known to him casually and was hired to do land surveying work in the past.

He also noted that there is a longstanding practice for members of Parliament to recommend local contractors for works in their constituencies.

Investigations into this matter are said to have commenced after a local TV news program in May 2016 raised questions about the contracts and the relationship between Holness and the construction company officials. The matter remained a concern given that corruption among public officials has been a long-term concern and the country consistently ranks low on an annual Corruption Perception Index compiled by Transparency International.

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