I welcome you to King’s House for this important event – the swearing-in of Mr. Dirk Harrison as Jamaica’s fifth Contractor-General. There is so much which is expected of this post which you, Mr. Harrison, will assume on Friday, March 1.

I want to assure each one of you that the process which was carried through was done objectively and transparently.  He has turned out to be a gentle giant and was successful in all the tests to which he was put in order to become Contractor-General.  In this capacity I must congratulate you for your achievement of this landmark to become Jamaica’s new Contractor-General.

In a country perceived nationally and internationally as impacted by high levels of corruption, there is an onerous weight of responsibility on this post of Contractor-General. Jamaicans expect that through the faithful discharge of the mandate of this office, our country can again rely on the public sector’s accountability, integrity and efficiency in the management of our national resources.  At this time as we confront serious economic challenges, this is a particularly urgent demand.

The Mission of the Office of the Contractor-General is very clear in its objectives and can be summarized as follows:  “to monitor and to investigate the award and termination of all Government of Jamaica contracts, licenses and permits, with a view to ensuring impartiality, merit, propriety and the absence of irregularity in the Jamaica Public Sector procurement, contract award and licensing processes”.   We underscore the gravity of this mandate and I believe I speak for all of us in commending you for accepting this charge to serve your country.

Your predecessors, Ashton George Wright, Gordon Wells, Derrick McKoy and Gregory Christie, worked hard to fulfill their mandate in often difficult  and challenging circumstances  and in the face of constant criticism. Not surprising is that their efforts were recognized by the Jamaican people in a survey conducted by Don Anderson Market Services in November 2011.  An analysis of the findings revealed that the Office of the Contractor-General was ranked as having earned the highest level of public satisfaction in the fight against corruption in this island.  This, Mr. Harrison, should serve as a source of encouragement to you as you assume your new duties.

Jamaica will look to you and your team to ensure that corruption is reduced, or preferably, totally eliminated, thus enhancing our international profile. Jamaica will expect you to ensure that the public sector contractual arrangements are transparent, above-board and free from every hint of corruption.  Our nation anticipates the day when Transparency International will positively report on our fight to free our country from corruption. We long for the time when national resources are managed in the best interest of this country.  I charge you, therefore, to inspire and lead your team effectively so that the Office of the Contractor-General will achieve its mission and deliver the results for which it was established.

On behalf of the people of Jamaica I wish that God will endow you with the necessary wisdom and that your tenure will be successful. Please be assured of the support of not just those of us who are present on this occasion, but also all law-abiding citizens of this country.  We ask for no more than that you faithfully and fearlessly discharge your duties in keeping with the provisions of the Contractor-General’s Act and in the best interest of Jamaica, Land we love.