Tue | Mar 2, 2021

Jamaica Moves evaluation report missing - Health ministry contracts to Market Me topped $87m

Published:Thursday | July 30, 2020 | 12:21 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Parliamentary Reporter
Dunstan Bryan, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
Dunstan Bryan, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness says it could not find a copy of a critical evaluation document it sent to the National Contracts Commission (NCC) for its approval of the Market Me Consulting Limited Jamaica Moves contract.

The document could not be found up to Wednesday when ministry officials appeared before an oversight committee of Parliament to provide details about the contract process and to say why Market Me had been given the nod through an unsolicited proposal.

This comes even as the health ministry and Market Me are both claiming ownership of the Jamaica Moves brand, with the former saying that it is taking steps to hand over the matter to the attorney general.

When asked to produce the evaluation report on Wednesday, Dunstan Bryan, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, said that he had not yet seen it. He said that in order for the proposal to have been made to the NCC, there would have had to be an evaluation document.

He told committee members that the ministry has asked the NCC to search for a copy of the document.

Bryan also revealed on Wednesday that when Market Me made its unsolicited proposal to the ministry for Jamaica Moves, the technical heads of all the branches, as well as Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton, were in attendance.

The Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) also heard the developing controversy over who owns the Jamaica Moves brand.

The permanent secretary said that the ministry has now turned over the matter to the Attorney General’s Chambers to deal with the issue, which has now become a legal matter.

Bryan said that the ministry was advised sometime in 2018 that Market Me had registered the brand in its name.

Jamaicans were advised by Bryan that the rights to the Jamaica Moves brand would be handed over to the ministry in August.

He told the committee that the Jamaica Moves brand was subject to capture, and, therefore, Market Me moved to protect it by registering it in the company’s name.

It was also revealed on Wednesday that public bodies that fall under the Ministry of Health and Wellness have awarded $19.4 million worth of contracts to Market Me since 2017.

This increases to $87.5 million the overall sum paid to Market Me from 2017 to date.

The effective date of the first Jamaica Moves contract signed between Market Me and the health ministry was the subject of extensive deliberations between some committee members and Bryan.

Committee member Mikael Phillips said that the documents he received from the ministry stated that the one-year contract was signed in January 2017.

Responding, Bryan said:“It was an error. They did not address the dates in the contract.”

MINISTRY’S TARDINESS

Asked if it was tardiness on the part of the ministry, Bryan said: “I’ll accept that.”

The committee was told that then permanent secretary Sancia Bennett Templer signed the contract that Phillips highlighted. She is now permanent secretary in the Ministry of Justice.

“I am putting it to the committee that this was an error,” Bryan insisted.

“The reason that was proffered to me is that the negotiations were supposed to have concluded in January, but they were extrapolated ( sic) beyond January because of tying down some critical points in the contract,” he added.

But Wykeham McNeill sought further clarity.

“So you signed a contract in January having not finished the negotiations?”

“What was put out was the draft contract,” said Bryan, noting that the “draft contract was dated January because it was anticipated that they would have concluded all negotiations in January. They did not conclude until June, but they omitted to change the date in the draft contract”.

Committee member Alando Terrelonge said that the Jamaica Moves contract had delivered value for money, noting that the programme was highly sought after in the region and internationally.

Wednesday’s deliberations were testy at times, with government lawmakers slamming their opposition counterparts for playing politics in their line of questions.

However, the opposition members dismissed the assertions, saying that they were carrying out the mandate of the committee.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com