West Portland Member of Parliament, the JLP’s Daryl Vaz is this afternoon questioning whether Opposition Leader and PNP President Dr. Peter Phillips is shielding PNP members who’ve had strong adverse referrals in anti-corruption probes and calling on Phillips to fire South East St. Ann MP, Lisa Hanna, as the PNP’s Chief National Campaign Spokesperson.
Mr. Vaz’s call comes following the disclosure in the media this week that the country’s main prosecutorial authority, the Office of the DPP, concluded that there’s evidence that Hanna participated in and supported a culture of negligence, nepotism, cronyism and unethical management in the award of million of dollars in contracts to PNP cronies by the St. Ann Municipal Corporation between 2011 and 2015.
The findings of the DPP came following a referral by what was the country’s leading anti-corruption agency, the Office of the Contractor General. The DPP stated that – “there was a culture of negligence and/or unethical management in the award of contracts developed in the St Ann Municipal Corporation acting under the aegis of Ms Hanna”.
In a damning indictment on Hanna’s stewardship and the twelve (12) Government contracts which Hanna was referred to the Office of the DPP to regarding, the DPP stated – “an impartial and fair-minded observer could legitimately form the view that the St Ann Municipal Corporation was being used as a vehicle through which PNP cronies were, over a period of time, awarded CDF funded contracts with negligent or inadequate supervision as to their execution, which potentially amounts to egregious breaches of the Government of Jamaica’s procurement policy guidelines”.
Mr Vaz says it smacks of hypocrisy that Phillips would have the audacity to have Hanna remain as the PNP’s Chief Campaign Spokesperson and Colin Campbell as PNP Communication Director despite Campbell refusing to give testimony in the public domain about the 31-million dollar Trafigura Beheer Corruption scandal which has haunted him and the PNP for over a decade .
The West Portland MP says it’s evident that Dr. Phillips is not serious about dealing with the perception of corruption. He says Phillips must fire Hanna and Campbell.
Mr. Vaz is also calling for the PNP President to sanction Phillip Paulwell following a disclosure this week that Paulwell had successfully petitioned Petrojam for funds to execute a school project but the project has not been executed. That issue involving Paulwell and the Petrojam/Camperdown funds has been referred by the Integrity Commission to the Financial Investigation Division, (FID) for further investigation.
Mr. Vaz says it’s disturbing that the Integrity Commission has rejected Paulwell’s version of events regarding the project and has stated that Paulwell had not supplied acceptable bank records to verify the whereabouts of the funds. Vaz says Paulwell, who’s Ministries have been implicated in no fewer that eight corruption scandals, should also be fired as PNP Campaign Director.
Mr. Vaz says it must be noted that Dr. Phillips has adopted a bitter, toxic and ‘obsessive scandal hunt’ approach over the past four years and has not put forward one credible idea to help advance Jamaica.
Vaz says while calling out hypocrisy is important, he’s not interested in a ‘tit-for-tat’ with Phillips over corruption because corruption is a serious issue facing Jamaica and deserves honest and sober analysis.
The West Portland MP is also commending the Integrity Commission on work it has done to help begin to reduce the scourge.
At the same time, Mr. Vaz is also rejecting as baseless innuendos cast by Dr. Phillips on the political platform on the weekend. Phillips had called for Mr. Vaz to be sanctioned due to a Contractor report into a bushing project conducted by the Government where Mr. Vaz’s name was fleeting mentioned with no adverse finding. The Contractor General had noted that Vaz made a recommendation of a contractor to take part in a project.
Phillips also suggested yesterday that Vaz should be sanctioned for his alleged role in the Palace Resort/UDC deal. Mr. Vaz says it should be noted that unlike several people Phillips has promoted no adverse recommendations to law enforcement agencies were made by the Commission of Parliament which probed the matter in respect of him.
Thirdly, in grasping at straws, Phillips had also suggested that Mr. Vaz should be sanctioned for submitting an expression of interest in a process which had gone to tender. Mr. Vaz says he broke no law and was fully transparent in his approach to the process which had gone to public tender.
Mr. Vaz says it must be noted that at no time regarding the issues raised by Phillips has he been referred to law enforcement for further probe or to the DPP or been the subject of any adverse findings by both authorities. Vaz says it must be further noted that this is not the case with Paulwell, Hanna or Campbell and therefore it’s incumbent on Dr. Phillips to take strong action and fire the trio.
The West Portland MP says Phillips will make worst his track record of hypocrisy if he refuses to take action and continues to shield his fellow comrades.