PM Holness Responds to Allegations; Mark Golding Calls the PM’s Implication in Integrity Report Appaling – Listen Audio, See Post

Following the Integrity Commission’s report and referral to the Director of Corruption Prosecution implicating Prime Minister Andrew Holness in allegations of conflict of interest, Mark Golding has called the news appalling.

The Commission’s referral was made after its investigation found that Holness may have influenced the awarding of millions of dollars in government contracts to the company of a business associate. Contracts were awarded to Westcon Construction Limited between 2006 and 2009 through multiple government agencies, including the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Information (MOEYI), when Holness served as portfolio minister. According to the report, the prime minister knew the company’s directors, Robert Garvin and Donovan Simpson, for over 20 years.

In a statement on Wednesday, Golding said that the report’s findings had exposed Jamaica to international embarrassment and made it impossible to defend against criticism.
“A head of government should be beyond reproach, and it is unacceptable that he has been besmirched by accusations of impropriety. That the country’s principal integrity and anti-corruption body [ … ] has found sufficient evidence to refer our Prime Minister for potential prosecution places Jamaica in an untenable position,” Golding stated.

Golding said the report was unfortunately consistent with Holness’s “troubling history” with the Integrity Commission, citing the Commission’s inability to certify his 2021 statutory declaration of assets, liabilities, and income. He went on to note that unlike himself and other leaders in the People’s National Party (PNP), Holness has failed to sign the Integrity Commission’s Leadership Code of Conduct. The opposition believes that the implications of the report could be potentially crippling for the Government.

Following the release of the report, Holness issued a response denying the allegations of misconduct. According to the prime minister, he has never exercised influence over the awarding of contracts, and the failure of agencies to comply with various procurement rules can not be attributed to him. Holness explained that it has become customary over the years for Members of Parliament (MPs) to recommend local contractors who are already working in the constituency and associated with the MP to undertake work in said constituencies.

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Holness said such practices had never been cited as exercising undue influence in the past. He also noted that a review of the local works and Constituency Development Fund (CDF) project officers would reveal that MP recommendations are featured significantly. The prime minister went on to state that he disagreed with the findings in the report and has referred the matter to his lawyers.

Listen to the audio and read Holness’s full statement below:

Audio- The Jamaica Gleaner