Announcement soon on Mark Barnett’s future as NWC president – Samuda Loop Jamaica

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Six months after National Water Commission (NWC) President Mark Barnett was sent on administrative leave, Senator Matthew Samuda says an announcement could be made soon regarding his future at the utility company.

He provided the update at a post-Cabinet press on Wednesday. 

“The reports that would have come from the Integrity Commission and, certainly, the ruling on said reports from the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions), would have given the ministry and the board of NWC great cause for concern,” the minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation said.

In October last year, the NWC board sent Barnett on leave following a scathing 90-page report from the Integrity Commission (IC), which accused Barnett and his wife, attorney-at-law Annette Francis Barnett, of deliberately breaching building permits issued by the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) and the National Planning and Environmental Agency (NEPA).

The breaches relate to a multi-storey development undertaken by the Barnetts at 11 Charlemont Drive, Kingston 6.

DPP Paula Llewellyn, in January of this year, subsequently issued a ruling that the husband and wife duo would not face criminal charges because “the initiation of prosecution” regarding breaches of the environmental permit under the National Resources Conservation Authority Act, which the allegations support, was “time sensitive”.

The prosecution of such offences has to brought within 12 months of the breach being identified. 

Since those developments, there has been no word on any further action, if any, against Barnett by the NWC board. 

When pressed for an update on Wednesday, Samuda said Barnett remains on administrative leave. 

He said the NWC board has “followed the processes outlined under our labour laws and our internal procedures faithfully.

“Based on where that situation is at this stage, I will not comment further, but I can say that I share the concerns of the public, and I share the national assessment of the situation, and I expect an announcement soon,” Samuda indicated. 

Barnett has spent many years at the NWC, rising through the ranks until he was appointed president in August 2015.

Kevin Kerr has been acting as NWC president since Barnett has been on administrative leave.