September 19, 2020

Anglican Bishop balks at three-man contract panel just before his enthronement

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Bishop Howard Gregory

Lord Bishop-elect of the Anglican Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Rt. Rev. Dr. Howard Kingsley Ainsworth Gregory has called on the People’s National Party Administration to rethink its decision to appoint an Independent Oversight Panel to expedite negotiation and settlement of three large Government contracts.

Bishop Gregory said it was time for a review of the procurement process for Government contracts, citing an example of a public body waiting for more than three years to have an already funded contract approved by Cabinet.

Speaking at a meeting of the Rotary Club of St Andrew yesterday, Bishop Gregory said Government was taking too long to approve contracts — a similar accusation that the administration has made of Contractor General Greg Christie.

“We take note of the reason advanced by the minister (of transport and works) for the creation of the Oversight Committee, namely the expeditious negotiation and settlement of certain contracts related to special projects of the Government, and fully understand that such a facility can mean savings in monetary expenditures and taking advantage of opportunity costs,” Bishop Gregory told the meeting held at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston.

“…At the same time, we must ask if the application of the procurement policies is not having the same effect on other public institutions, leading to costly delays and cost overruns. I was most distressed to sit in a board meeting for a tertiary institution where we have made financial provision for the construction of needed physical facilities, and three years later we are awaiting the approval of the Cabinet. God only knows if when that approval is forthcoming the resources set apart will have any relationship to current costs,” he said.

Last month, Minister of Transport and Works Dr Omar Davies announced the establishment of the three-man panel to provide oversight for the North-South Link of Highway 2000, the Gordon Cay Container Trans-shipment Hub and the Fort Augusta Container Terminal.

Dr Davies said after due consideration of the “enormous potential impact of the projects to the economy, Cabinet took the decision to advance the projects in a manner consistent with good governance and transparency”.

The move received support from some members of the Opposition, including former Transport and Works Minister Mike Henry.

However, the contractor general described the establishment of the panel as “a brazen, but futile attempt to usurp, undermine and circumvent the lawful government contract monitoring authority and mandate” of his office.

The three-man panel is comprised of Principal of the University of the West Indies Professor Gordon Shirley, businessman R Danny Williams and retired territory senior partner for auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers Everton McDonald.

Speaking to the Jamaica Observer after the meeting, Bishop Gregory declined to name the tertiary institution in question, but said the procurement process for the construction of a new building there proved to be long and tedious.

Bishop Gregory also said he had learned that the tertiary institution in question was “not the only one in this situation”, as in some cases, bodies that were in the middle of a procurement exercise “were told to start the process all over again.”

In calling for an overhaul of the system of procurement to make the process more efficient, Bishop Gregory warned the Government against trying to vilify and discredit the contractor general.

“If there are personnel, personality or operational strategies that need to be fixed, let us fix them. But let us not fool ourselves into thinking that somehow the welfare of this society will be better served with the demise of any of these leaders and the institutions they represent, or through circumventing them, as such a strategy only leads to the fuelling of the very societal cynicism which led to their creation in the first place,” he stated.

 

Bishop Gregory will be enthroned on Thursday, May 17 as the 14th  Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands and the sixth native Diocesan Bishop in a colourful Service at the historic Cathedral of St. Jago de la Vega, in Spanish Town, starting at 4.00 p.m.

The Enthronement, which will be conducted in accordance with the ancient customs and rites of the Church, will begin with the public reading of the Certificate of Election by the Chancellor and Registrar of the Diocese, the Hon. Mr. Justice Lensley Wolfe, confirming the legality of the Special Synod at which Bishop Gregory was elected on March 27. Mr. Justice Wolfe will also read the Letters Mandatory from the Archbishop of the West Indies, His Grace the Most Rev. John Holder, officially paving the way for the enthronement to proceed.

The high-point of the afternoon’s ceremonial will be the presentation of the 100 year-old Pastoral Staff to Bishop Gregory by the former Bishop of the Diocese, the Rt. Rev. Dr. the Hon. Alfred Charles Reid, and the installation of the new Diocesan Bishop on the throne of the Cathedral, which has been the Mother Church in the Diocese since 1843.

Bishop Gregory will preside at the Service which follows. Concelebrant will be the Suffragan Bishop of Kingston, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Robert Thompson, who will also be among the senior clergy involved in the Enthronement ceremony.

Musical presentations during the Service will feature the  Diocesan Festival Choir, the St. Hilda’s Diocesan High School Choir, the Laudate Chorale, soloists June Thompson-Lawson and the Rev. Canon Georgia “Grace” Jervis, the Holy Trinity Steel Orchestra from Montego Bay, the St. Mary Parish Church Drummers and trumpeters from the Jamaica Defence Force. Accompaniment will be provided by organists Dwight McBean and Ann Trouth.

Governor General, the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen and Lady Allen, will head the list of dignitaries from Jamaica and overseas, who will attend the Service. Other special guests include former Governor General, the Most Hon. Professor Sir Kenneth Hall and Lady Hall; representatives of the Diplomatic Corps; and Custodes; civic leaders; members of the Judiciary and the Ecumenical fraternity.

The Anglican Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands will be represented by some 300 members of the clergy, as well as Church Workers, lay representatives, and students at the United Theological College of the West Indies.

The 61 year-old Bishop Gregory, who has been a Priest for 38 years, succeeds the Rt. Rev. and Hon. Alfred C. Reid, who retired on December 31, 2011 after serving as Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands for eleven years.

The service of Enthronement on Thursday, May 17 will be shown live at 4pm at St. George’s Anglican Episcopal Church Hall, Courts Road, George Town, Grand Cayman.

 

 

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