No conflict of interest, Grange insists in response to Hanna

Tuesday, April 25, 2017    

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CULTURE Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange is maintaining that there was no conflict of interest in the engagement of Trevor Nairne as artistic director in last year’s Grand Gala celebrations, as was suggested by St Ann South Eastern Member of Parliament Lisa Hanna.

In her response to questions tabled in the House earlier this month by Hanna, the Opposition spokesperson on culture, Grange said Hanna was attempting to establish a link between the awarding of a contract to Nairne by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) and Grange’s senior advisor Lenford Salmon, a decision she said “no one at the ministry had anything to do with”.

Hanna alleged that a pattern seemed to be developing in the ministry where established State agencies are bypassed in favour of personal consultants.

She told the House that Nairne was hired last year and paid $15 million to design costumes, among other things, for Grand Gala celebrations that could have been done by the JCDC.

Nairne and Salmon are registered shareholders in the same company, Jambiz International Limited. Salmon has also been tasked with overseeing this year’s Jamaica 55 secretariat.

The minister admitted that she was aware that the two men are partners but said she could not answer Hanna’s question about knowing their share capital in their partnership.

“I was aware that Mr Nairne was contracted as the artistic director for the 2016 Grand Gala. I received this information when I requested an update on progress being made in the planning of the event. However, I was not aware of the details of the contract and was not involved in any way in the engagement or contracting of Mr Nairne. This was handled by the JCDC management team whose prerogative it is to enter into contracts on behalf of the commission,” she wrote in her response, which was sent to the media.

Hanna also questioned whether or not the ministry or JCDC had put any aspect of the 2016 Grand Gala expenditure out to public tender.

Grange indicated that the JCDC utilised limited tender procurement methodology for the acquisition of technical services for the Grand Gala, which she said was in keeping with the provisions of the Jamaica Handbook of Public Sector Procurement Procedures, Volume One.

She further explained that Nairne was not paid, in full, as Hanna had stated, but in three parts — $7,500,000 on July 15, 2016; $3,750,000 on July 27, 2016; and $3,750,000 on August 28, 2016.

She said the value of the contract covered: Procurement of material and labour for approximately 2,000 participants; payment to 12 contractors/seamstresses across Kingston, the plains of St Andrew, Spanish Town and Portmore; provision of hundreds of items of props for performers; provision of tents and sound equipment for one week of rehearsals in the National Stadium and Stadium East; payment to seven choreographers and 16 assistant choreographers; payment to 17 group leaders and assistant group leaders/marshalls; payment to 16 production assistants/stage management; payment to three technical management/crews; payment to artistic director and assistant to artistic director; administrative expenses (travelling, office space, administrative support, etc) for the duration of the contract.

“Mr Nairne is a product of the JCDC and has, over the years, given outstanding artistic support to that entity under both administrations,” Grange said.





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