Current Affairs

Current Affairs




PM likely to reveal NHDC probe report next week
Thursday, April 11, 2002

Jamaica Observer

PRIME Minister P J Patterson is likely to publicise next week the findings of a probe he ordered in February into the operations of the National Housing Development Corporation (NHDC) after allegations of corruption tainted the state agency and embarrassed the Government.

The Office of the Prime Minister said in a news release that members of the commission, chaired by Erwin Angus, and including Noel Levy, Carlton DePass and Robert Martin, presented their report to Patterson at a meeting at Jamaica House Tuesday.

"The prime minister said he would be reviewing the findings and recommendations of the report and indicated his intention to make the report public in a few days," the news release said.

Last night, a government source said it was unlikely that the prime minister would be able to fully read the report before this weekend, given that he had a full day of engagements yesterday and has a couple of appointments scheduled for today.

The source also speculated that Patterson would probably share the findings with his Cabinet at their weekly meeting on Monday before making them public.

The allegations of corruption at the NHDC were raised by the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party which charged that there were billions of dollars in cost overruns at Operation PRIDE housing developments being undertaken by the NHDC.

The JLP demanded a full review by the auditor-general of all 100 PRIDE projects and said that 10 projects that have faced significant cost overruns should be probed by independent auditors and the fraud squad.

But Karl Blythe, the water and housing minister, has dismissed the Opposition's charges, saying that while there were some shortcomings in the financial management of the NHDC, there was no widespread corruption at the state agency.

Blythe also announced new measures to improve control over the NHDC's expenditure, among them the permanent secretary in his ministry signing off on any work valued at $1 million or more and the signature of the permanent secretary for payments of $4 million or more to contractors.

He also promised a major audit of all agencies under his portfolio, including the NHDC and the National Water Commission, with a review of the findings to be done by external auditors, including those used by the auditor-general.