Integrity Commission to probe Market Me, health ministry dealings | Lead Stories

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The Integrity Fee has taken an curiosity within the controversy involving the Ministry of Well being and Wellness and advertising and marketing agency Market Me Consulting Restricted, setting the stage for a serious probe into the ministry’s coping with the corporate.

Talking on situation of anonymity, a supply on the State’s corruption watchdog company advised The Sunday Gleaner that there was a “small” preliminary briefing internally as the difficulty erupted, sending Well being and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton on the defensive about greater than $40 million value of contracts awarded to Market Me.

Market Me is the corporate behind the Jamaica Strikes bodily health marketing campaign, which is being promoted by the Ministry of Well being and Wellness to convey consciousness to the influence of non-communicable ailments and get Jamaicans, by quite a lot of initiatives, to take steps to scale back the chance of contracting them.

The well being ministry is endeavor an inside assessment of the method which led to the contract being awarded to Market Me, the newspaper understands.

Everlasting secretary within the Ministry of Well being and Wellness, Dunstan Bryan, yesterday refused to verify the assessment, however indicated to The Sunday Gleaner that the ministry will problem a press release on the state of affairs tomorrow.

It has been revealed that the Public Procurement Fee (PPC) had rejected the renewal of a multimillion-dollar contract to the corporate. However that call was reversed following a profitable foyer by the ministry.

Corporations Workplace of Jamaica data present that Market Me was integrated on February 20, 2013, with Lyndsey McDonnough and Kristina Kerr as administrators.

Each are listed as advertising and marketing specialists.

The corporate initially made an unsolicited proposal to the ministry in 2016 for a contract valued at $15.9 million, which was permitted.

In Might 2019, the ministry wished to increase the contract, however the procurement authority objected, noting that there was no proof that worth for cash had been achieved from the primary contract and Market Me had not met the minimal required rating within the bid doc.

PROGRAMME DISRUPTION

However the everlasting secretary led a ministry staff that lobbied for a reversal. It was argued then that going to open market would have disrupted the Jamaica Strikes programme, which was formally launched in April 2017.

The ministry officers – Everlasting Secretary Bryan; Dr Simone Spence, appearing director of well being promotion and safety; and Trudy Brennan, appearing director of procurement – argued additional that the ministry was desirous of sustaining the appear and feel of the programme because it had seen “constructive outcomes” coming from the marketing campaign led by Market Me.

The PPC reversed its choice after the ministry lowered the contract interval from two years to 1.

Nonetheless, the fee suggested the ministry to place in place acceptable measures to make sure the venture was put to tender earlier than the contract interval expired.

That renewed contract was value $38.9 million.

However there are extra questions relating to the unsolicited bid submitted by Market Me to the well being ministry.

It has additionally been revealed that there had been a plan for a social media marketing campaign geared toward getting Jamaicans ‘shifting’ from 2013 within the ministry, three years earlier than Market Me approached the Tufton-led ministry in 2016.

Sources have additionally revealed that Market Me had been awarded quite a lot of contracts referring to different initiatives, aside from the Jamaica Strikes initiative, by the well being ministry, “totalling tens of millions of {dollars}”.

At a press convention final week, Tufton didn’t straight reply whether or not he had a detailed affiliation with any of the principals of Market Me.

“Sure, I’ve an amazing relationship with Market Me. I feel they’re a tremendous firm. They’ve delivered very successfully throughout my tenure as minister, and I’ve no issue in saying they work laborious, and I loved working with them,” Tufton responded.

In the meantime, McDonnough, talking on behalf of Market Me, declined to touch upon the contract award course of.

“On the directions of my lawyer,” she advised The Sunday Gleaner, “I at present don’t have any remark. On the acceptable time, Market Me Consulting Restricted will launch a proper assertion.”

OUTSOURCE LARGE CONTRACTS

Civil society advocate Carol Narcisse identified that the Authorities of Jamaica Procurement Handbook 1.2 famous that “An unsolicited proposal could also be thought-about if it (a) demonstrates a singular and modern idea, or demonstrates a singular functionality of the contract; (b) presents an idea or service not in any other case accessible in Authorities”.

Narcisse additional identified that the handbook stated an unsolicited proposal could also be thought-about if it doesn’t resemble the substance of a latest, present, or pending aggressive tender.

The well being ministry has lengthy had a capability downside to implement large-scale well being campaigns, a former senior official on the ministry advised The Sunday Gleaner.

The official, who didn’t need to be recognized within the story however has labored for greater than a decade within the public well being service, stated it was normally the case that the ministry would outsource giant campaigns.

Nonetheless, these campaigns are normally not by unsolicited proposals, the official added.

Opposition Spokesman on Well being Dr Morais Man has additionally questioned whether or not the existence of a number of contracts between Market Me and the Ministry of Well being and Wellness ought to set off an investigation to establish whether or not Tufton used his place because the portfolio minister to steer, or affect – partly or complete – the contracts awarded to Market Me.

He stated, if the claims had been true, “it’s going to quantity to cronyism, nepotism, and the abuse of public workplace, which might then necessitate a right away investigation by both the Integrity Fee or the Auditor Basic’s Division”.

editorial@gleanerjm.com

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