Ethics, purpose of David Patterson’s trip

first_imgDear Editor,Over the past two days, there has been a back and forth between the People’s Progressive Party and Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson on Facebook. On Thursday, the PPP’s official page carried an assertion that China International Contractors had made a deposit of US$9000 into Minister Patterson’s personal account.Early on Friday, AFC Treasurer Dominic Gaskin, speaking at his party’s press conference, said he would put his neck on a block that US$9000 was never deposited by China International Contractors into the personal bank account of Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson on February of 2017.However, on Friday evening, Patterson replied to the PPP via Facebook to confirm that a deposit was made into his account by China International Contractors as asserted. His explanation was that the deposit was reimbursement for his travel expenses to the Seventh International Investment and Construction Forum in Macao, China, and this arrangement was approved by Cabinet.Quite apart from the loss to Dom’s body, this answer raises many questions as to the ethics and purpose of Patterson’s trip. It is a legend that Singapore stamped out corruption at the very top by jailing a Minister who accepted a paid vacation, in contrast, we have our Cabinet approving the acceptance of a ‘free’ trip by a Minister who routinely makes decisions which are vital to our public infrastructure.Is there any public report or record submitted by Patterson of his activities at this conference? Given that two massive contracts were awarded to Chinese companies for provision of service to GPL – one was more than a billion dollars over the engineer’s estimate and the other exceeded the nearest bid by a billion also – GPL falls under the Minister’s purview; can we ask if these companies also attended the forum in Macao? Given that there was a massive reduction in the deliverables of the CJIA expansion project, a ‘fixed price’ contract and a bewildering increase in payment to a Chinese firm, can we ask if China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) was also present in Macao? And if so, were there any talks with Minister Patterson?Going forward, it would be useful for Minister Patterson to respond to assertions via the recognised press and provision of proof of “prompt” remittance to MARAD as claimed to be provided. A provision against acceptance of ‘free’ anything by Ministers of Government should be written into the much vaunted APNU/AFC Ministers’ Code of Conduct, for it seems the basics of ethics and common sense have evaded the Cabinet; today also saw another AFC Minister, Cathy Hughes, assert that the citizens of the country are corrupt to explain her lack of remorse that a company she owns was awarded Government contracts without due process.Respectfully,Robin Singhlast_img