“MAMA P” RESCUES “BABY P”

There’s no doubt Portia Simpson-Miller is an inspirational leader.

As such, Jamaica urgently needs her now. The Country is in such a deep, dark hole, that we’ll never dig our way out except as a unified front. She beats Young Andrew hands down in the Inspire-Jamaicans-to-unite Stakes. That’s why it was so important, regarding the EWI kerfuffle, that she eschew partisan or “power” politics (pun intended), and deal with the problem in a decisive, solution-oriented way.

No such luck. As usual, she stuck with politics. She used every political trick in the book; conjured up every political illusion; and turned on her political smoke and mirrors machine, all to avoid dismissing her strong supporter and protégé, Philip “Baby P” Paulwell. As usual, Jamaican media, experts at absorption and regurgitation, swallowed it whole without salt and asked for more. One former holder of high office, apparently unable to accept he’s no longer in the public eye, went so far as to commend the PM.

Jamaica obviously needs reminders of the historical accumulation of mis-steps making EWI the last straw breaking the backs of Baby P’s employers (us). We expect our chief servant (the PM) to pack his bags for him if he won’t voluntarily retire.

Remember 2002? Paulwell purported to give direct instructions to O.U.R. not to increase rates for fixed to mobile (FTM) calls? Apparently, Paulwell called O.U.R. Director General, Winston Hay, telling him a fourth telecommunications provider was interested in investing in Jamaica but only if FTM rates stayed the same. Familiar? It’s now officially known as “PEE (Paulwell Excludes Enquiry) Syndrome”. After Hay refused, Paulwell issued a Direction purporting to restrict the OUR’s role in setting interconnection rates. O.U.R took him to court and the Privy Council ruled the direction was ultra vires.

TWELVE YEARS later, he’s still relying on PEE?

You pick him up, you lick him down
him bounce right back.
What a ’ard man fe dead!

You don’t recall? Ok. Remember Netserv? Paulwell approved a loan of J$180 million to Netserv despite no matching equity. Due diligence reports warned against doing business with Netserv but a J$90 million first payment was handed over allegedly for start-up operations. Just before a second payment was due, Paulwell received TWO damning reports from JAMPRO and NIBJ regarding Netserv. Somehow, the second payment was still made. Jamaica lost every dollar. Paulwell later admitted it was an error not to force the company to put up US$6 million in equity before the original loan was granted. Ya think?

THIRTEEN YEARS later, he’s still praying companies can raise equity instead of seeing it up front? PEE rules.

Them seh, the cat’s got a nine life
but this man got ninety-nine life, cause…
you pick him up, you lick him down,
him bounce right back.
What a ’ard man fe dead! (Hard man fe dead!)

You don’t recall? Ok. Remember the 2006 defective cement debacle? Somehow, 500 tonnes of faulty cement found itself on the Jamaican market. Guess who was Minister of Commerce and Industry? You guessed it. Baby P himself. The JLP accused Paulwell of failing to insist cement production conform to Bureau of Standards certification programmes which was mandatory prior to the 2003 privatisation.

EIGHT YEARS later, he’s still circumventing local rules for dubious foreign investors?

Them boil one pot of chocolate tea.
and all the fry fish they caught in the sea.
They also got six quart o’ rum.
Saying that they waiting for the nine night to come.”

You don’t recall? Ok. Remember the Cuban Light bulb scandal for which a weeping Kern Spencer was told to shut up? Co-incidentally, Kern was Junior Minister in guess who’s Ministry? Bwoy, oono quick. Baby P indeed. But a Government investigation cleared Paulwell of any involvement. Yet, somehow, on his watch, the distribution of free light bulbs (came with volunteers paid by Cuba) ended up costing taxpayers $300 million from lucrative contracts given out to newly incorporated companies without a shred of due diligence. Kern has been found innocent. Is anybody guilty?

The last time I heard them say
that this man was dead (this man was dead)
They find a block a ice
and them lay it all upon ’is ’ead (the man was dead)

Now the procession leads to the cemetery
The man ’oller out ‘Don’t you bury me’
You pick him up, you lick him down
him bounce right back,
What a hard man fe dead!

Remember now? It’s against this background of repeated transgressions that he’s yet again involved in blatant political interference (with OUR) and tries to cure resulting IDB estrangement by threatening blatant political interference with the Contractor General. Obviously, Baby P is a law onto himself.

So anxious is he to leap into bed with EWI that he forgets to renew EWI’s US7 million Bid Bond and weakens (though not kills) Jamaica’s ability to with-hold those funds. Like Michael Jordan, he’s unbelievaBULL!
Yet, he’s still a cabinet Member.

Instead of firing Baby P and replacing him with someone more suitable, the project is re-directed to a nebulous entity called “Enterprise Team”. It’s as if PM asked for divine intervention because a procurement process for such a huge, government-owned project can’t be run by private citizens unconnected to any constitutional or legislative authority.

It’s time to strip this politically manufactured illusion of all cover. Section 4 of the OUR Act PROVIDES:

4(1) ……the functions of the Office shall be to –
(a) regulate the provision of prescribed utility services by licensees or specified organizations;
(b) receive and process applications for a licence to provide a prescribed utility service and make such recommendations to the Minister in relation to the application as the Office considers necessary or desirable…

The definition section defines: “prescribed utility service” means a utility service specified in the First Schedule.

The first schedule lists “THE GENERATION, transmission, distribution AND SUPPLY OF ELECTRICITY” as a prescribed utility service.

The Licence issued by Paulwell to EWI describes itself as a License:

…….authorising the Licensee to DEVELOP, operate and maintain the facility which will be a……power plant using natural gas as the fuel IN ORDER TO GENERATE, SELL AND SUPPLY 381MW NET CAPACITY OF ELECTRICITY therefrom to the national grid (Jamaica)……

Even Stevie Wonder can see that this licence:

1. Is for the generation, sale and supply of electricity thus falling squarely within the exclusive jurisdiction of the OUR;
2. Provides for the eventual electricity sale to be to “the national grid” and NOT individual Jamaicans thus completely removing the License (whatever the licence itself pretends) from the purview of the Electric Lighting Act where the Minister ran for shelter when publicly challenged for usurping the OUR’s power to decide the Licence terms.

So where does this “Enterprise Team” come in? What’s its legal authority? How can a collection of politically appointed civilians capture a process specifically legislated to be overseen by O.U.R. on behalf of and for the protection of taxpayers? Why is O.U.R. being circumvented AGAIN? Is it just that Mama P can’t bring herself to end her Baby P’s political career? Is it that she’ll throw good governance and legal compliance out with the bathwater to keep her baby? Or is there more?

The simple solution would’ve been to replace the Minister but that would mean cutting loose her strongest supporter. So, instead, God is called upon to wave His magic wand; confuse us with smoke and mirrors; and save us from regulatory authorities and contractors general.

You pick him up, you lick him down
him bounce right back,
What a hard man fe dead!

Cecil Bustamante “Prince Buster” Campbell wrote and recorded Hard Man Fe Dead to chronicle what was being said at the time about Sir Alexander Bustamante, after whom Buster was christened. Busta’s health was failing and daily rumours persisted that the great man had died but each time he proved them wrong.

If we fail to see through the latest illusion and permit Government to get away with this magic trick, it’ll be win-win for the PNP and lose-lose for us. Baby P stays. OUR and contractor general will be sidelined. Crucial procurement decisions will be politically made. We’ll pay the price.

Peace and Love

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