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Integrity Commission to examine government's COVID-19 spending

The Integrity Commission has notified the government it will be thoroughly examining the spending of billions of dollars in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Recently appointed Executive Director of the Commission, Greg Christie, wrote to Permanent Secretaries and Principal Accounting Officers within the government on Tuesday, to outline the oversight body's intention.
 
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Minister of Finance Dr. Nigel Clarke, and Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Christopher Tufton were also copied on the letter.
 
Last Month, Dr. Nigel Clarke told the House of Representatives the government was allocating more than $26 billion to the COVID-19 response.
 
Most of that allocation was set to go to the government's CARE programme and the Health Ministry.
 
Mr. Christie said he notes that it has been reported that the Health Ministry had already spent $2.5 billion of the $2.8 billion it was initially allocated.
 
He said the commission is aware numerous other public entities have expended funds and, in doing so, would have awarded a wide variety of contracts, and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. 
 
He added that several donations and grants, totalling several millions dollars have reportedly been received by the public bodies and officials from private sector entities and individuals.
 
Mr. Christie said, given the unprecedented levels of expenditure committed to fighting the pandemic over the past few months, the adverse fiscal implications of COVID-19, and the additional funds the government intends to spend, the commission must fulfill its statutory obligations by responding in a similarly heightened manner. 
 
He explained that the Commission's Monitoring Programme will seek to ensure there is integrity, accountability and independent oversight in the government's COVID-19 expenditure and contract awards.
 
The letter also outlined that the commission's Director of  Investigations will soon request information from all pertinent ministries and agencies to facilitate the oversight process.
 


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