Culture Minister, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, says her Opposition counterpart, Lisa Hanna, is attacking her in a bid to deflect attention from the allegations leveled against the Ministry when she was the Minister in charge in 2012 at the time of the Jamaica 50 celebrations.
On Tuesday, Ms. Hanna accused Ms. Grange’s Ministry of nepotism and corruption in hiring an artistic director for the 2016 Grand Gala at a cost of $15-million.
According to Ms. Hanna, the director was the business partner of one of Ms. Grange’s senior advisors.
Ms. Grange is now seeking to clear the air on that matter.
The Contractor General’s damning report into the awarding of contracts for the Jamaica 50 celebrations was tabled in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The same day Ms. Hanna made claims of nepotism and corruption in the Culture Ministry now led by Ms. Grange.
The report accuses the then Lisa Hanna-led Ministry of displaying scant disregard for principles of accountability and transparency as it spent scarce public resources.
Minister Grange says the allegations by Ms. Hanna are a smokescreen to bury the report.
Ms. Hanna has accused Ms. Grange’s Ministry of adopting a $15-million consultant’s fee without negotiation and suggested it was paid up front.
Speaking on Cliff Hughes Online today, Minister Grange says proper guidelines were followed. She said the fee was paid in three tranches.
She says the $15-million was not paid over to a single consultant. But used to procure artistic items and performers for the Grand Gala.
She’s admitted that one of the principals of JAMBIZ, the company contracted to manage the Grand Gala, Lenford Salmon, is, in fact, her Advisor.
However, she says the pool of individuals qualified to undertake such projects are narrow and well known.
She notes that Ms. Hanna used the same company and consultant, Trevor Nairne, the partner of Mr. Salmon, for the 2012 Grand Gala.