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Members and Chairman of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of Parliament were in for a surprise when they were presented with documents and reports from the Ministry of Education. Significantly, some of the contracts issued out under the auspices of the Ministry, to secure the services of outside consultants came up for discussion in the Committee. There were many contradictions in the nature and amount of payments made to persons, prompting the Chairman, Dr. Wykeham McNeill, to comment that he finds the contracts ‘untidy’.
Two Contracts Given at CMU Compared
One of the issues that caused concern for the members of the PAAC was that the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) has engaged the services of two consultants; with differing financial arrangements. One is the contract issued to Othneil Lawrence as a consultant for a three-year period and the compensation agreed on of $5.1 million a year, or $425,000 per month. This ‘advisor’ holds just an associate degree. The same university then engaged another ‘consultant’, with a master’s degree and ‘tremendous years of experience in her field’, on a three-month renewable contract, paying $212,934 per month.
The fact to be highlighted in the first case here is Lawrence was a former Member of Parliament belonging to the Jamaica Labour Party. What is more, he held the post of a Junior Transport Minister (the CMU is directly administered by the Transport Ministry). That is not all; he was the only candidate interviewed for the position. The PAAC members from the opposition were quite upset and demanded an explanation for the disparity.
Another Controversial Appointment
The Caribbean Maritime University and the Ministry of Education were again in focus at the PAAC meeting for issuing contracts. Here, the person under suspicion is Gail Dunwell-Campbell. She is of Jamaican origin but residing in the US. She first received a contract from CMU to operate as a ‘diaspora network marketer’ and her contract allowed her to draw her payments in US Dollars. The more damaging part, however, is that Dunwell-Campbell was hired simultaneously as an ‘international donor consultant’ with the National Education Trust (NET) and was paid $3.5 million a year. The contract was signed on January 1, 2017. NET functions under the Ministry of Education.
It was after these details were revealed that the PAAC Chairman commented that the contracts appear ‘untidy’.
Over to the Ministry of Education to correct the issues identified.