WHO PAYS MP DWIGHT SIBBLIES?
The big question surrounding Member of Parliament for Clarendon Northern Dwight Sibblies is whether or not he has been collecting two State salaries, or has opted for the higher of two, while he also retains his job at the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech).
Sibblies, who Jamaica Observer checks revealed has been at UTech for over 23 years, defeated veteran parliamentarian Horace Dalley in the September 3, 2020 General Election by polling 6,058 votes to Dalley’s 5,345. Up to yesterday, in addition to being MP, he remained chief internal auditor at UTech. He is an attorney-at-law by training and is listed as senior partner in the law firm Sibblies and Associates.
Contacted for a comment yesterday, Sibblies refused to respond to questions surrounding why he has kept the job at UTech while serving as a member of the House of Representatives.
“I’m hearing you calling me but I don’t know who I’m speaking with, and I would suggest that you put what you are asking me in writing because I don’t know who I am speaking with… People call me from time to time, you know. So I suggest that you put everything that you are asking in writing or you ask the entity,” he said.
Told by the Sunday Observer that checks had shown that he was working with two State organs, Sibblies insisted:
“Like I said, you are to put it in writing because I don’t know who I’m speaking to. When you put it in writing send it to Georgia Hamilton, my attorney-at-law.” He then ended the call.
Legal minds have suggested that, apart from a potential conflict of interest, it is highly irregular for an elected member of the House of Representatives to effectively hold two Government jobs.
One told the Sunday Observer that had it been a case wherein Sibblies operated his personal business, including his legal practice, “or a manufacturing company for example, nothing would be wrong with it, as he has not been appointed to the Cabinet, which is stricter when it comes to additional employment.
“Once you have become a Member of Parliament, you are expected to devote your time to doing the job of the people. If you have a business, you are not prevented from being associated with that business. But if you, for example, had a job in which the State was paying you a salary, then it is expected that you would give that job up. It is at least irregular,” the lawyer continued.
A source told the Sunday Observer yesterday that Cabinet was looking into the matter of a potential conflict, and also that of Sibblies’ salary, and a decision is expected soon.
But another prominent lawyer, who also asked not to be identified, said he found it strange that Cabinet had taken so long to rule on such a matter, after it had been referred to it by the Ministry of Education.
“The election was nine months ago. Such a matter should not take so long to sort out,” he said. “The exposure to a potential conflict of interest could also be an issue,” the veteran attorney-at-law continued.
Another suggested that with Sibblies’ position being such a sensitive one, he should consider to either give it up, or quit as the official representative of the people of Clarendon Northern.
“The chief internal auditor is a kind of watchdog who is answerable to the audit committee of the university. He is to monitor and act independently of the administration of the university. It’s an important position and it should not be vulnerable to interference,” the senior jurist said.
One political watcher, who told the Sunday Observer that he preferred to “see how this one goes” before he officially joins the conversation, suggested that the matter could develop into something tricky.
“Once elected an MP you should resign from the other State job. If you decide not to resign, and the agency continues to have you in its employ, then the MP can get the higher of the two salaries under special circumstances, one of which is that MP’s association with the Electoral Commission of Jamaica. If an MP, who gets around $4 million a year, is chosen by his party to sit as its representative on the commission, then that MP would get the higher salary paid by the commission, which is over $8 million per annum.
“I don’t like the look of things, and I am not even sure that the Government should feel comfortable with it either,” the individual said.
The UTech internal audit team, headed by Sibblies, made the news at the end of January 2008 when the unit was sent on leave pending the outcome of investigations into the leaking of an internal document, which outlined a report on expenditure by then UTech President Professor Errol Morrison.
At the time, members of the internal audit unit were told to remove personal belongings in order to facilitate the probe into the lapse in confidentiality, as described then by the university.
UTech Jamaica, established under the University of Technology, Jamaica Act 27 of 1999, is a national Government-funded institution which offers instruction and educational services leading to certificate, diploma, undergraduate and graduate degree qualifications in more than 100 programmes.
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