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OCG concerned about gov’t deal


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KINGSTON – THE Office of the Contractor General (OCG) says it has grave concerns regarding Government’s proposed multi-billion dollar deal to sell its 45 per cent stake in the jointly owned Government/Alcoa JAMALCO alumina refinery to the Chinese entity, Zhuhai Hongfan Non-ferrous Metals And Chemical Engineering Limited (Hongfan). “Hongfan’s exclusive agent for the deal is a company called Port Reliant Limited (Port Reliant), about which the OCG has suspicions,” the OCG said in a release today. “The deal is also subject to Alcoa’s right of first/last refusal.” At the root of the OCG’s concerns are at least five major considerations which, when taken together, have raised serious questions for the OCG regarding the public interest, transparency, value for money, competition, conflicts of interest, propriety and the merit and impartiality of the prospective contract award to Hongfan. The five considerations, the OCG said, include that the proposed equity divestment was not put to public competitive tender by the Government but was, instead, directly negotiated with Port Reliant and/or Hongfan; and that Port Reliant has refused to make a full due-diligence disclosure to the Government regarding itself, its agency agreements with Hongfan, its historical business activities and its beneficial ownership, in keeping with certain OCG requests which were directed to the Mining and Energy Ministry. The OCG has reiterated its concerns regarding the proposed deal with Hongfan, it said, “particularly in light of the continuing lack of clarity about Port Reliant’s involvement in the matter and its curious and inexplicable refusal, to date, to provide certified documentary evidence about itself and its beneficial ownership”. The contractor general Greg Christie says he has adopted a resolute position on the matter. “The OCG has cautioned the Government that if the requested information is not fully forthcoming from Port Reliant, it, the Government, in the public’s interest, should shelve the deal. If the Government fails to heed the OCG’s recommendation, the OCG will forthwith launch a major investigation into the matter and will use the full force of its quasi-judicial powers to secure all pertinent facts and bring them within the public domain,” the OCG said.(Jamaica Observer)