KINGSTON, July 11, 2019 - The People's National Party (PNP) has written to Prime Minister Andrew Holness, demanding that the Government cooperates with the Parliamentary Opposition in convening the relevant Parliamentary Oversight Committee during the course of next week to review and recommend changes, where necessary, to make the operations and functioning of the National Integrity Commission more effective.
In addition, Dr. Phillips told the Prime Minister, that given the unprecedented number of instances of corrupt or irregular conduct of and within the Government and what appears to be an endemic situation, Commissions of Inquiry be established forthwith to enquire into the scandals relating to the Ministries of Education and Energy and their relevant agencies and to the UDC and the Rooms on the Beach transaction.
He pointed out that "in keeping with your promise in the last general election campaign and to provide some assurance to our people about their sustained safety, the Government immediately presents to the country, the outline of a crime control plan which embodies a strategic and programmatic approach to implementing initiatives required in the fight against crime and violence and the expected outcomes."
The Opposition Leader wants "all agencies and commissions which have a role in fighting and investigating corruption, including MOCA, FID, the Police, the Auditor General’s Department and the National Integrity Commission, be allowed by the Government to discharge their functions and duties effectively and impartially in relation to the unresolved matters. Neither you nor any member of your Administration must place any impediment in their way."
Dr. Phillips' letter to the government, followed this morning's protest, where officials and supporters of the People's National Party (PNP) march from Mandela Park in Half-Way-Tree to the Police Officers Club on Hope Road to vent their frustration with the corruption scandals rocking the Andrew Holness-led Government.
Addressing the gathering at Mandela Park, PNP President Dr. Peter Phillips said the party will not rest until the Government moves decisively to tackle corruption.
"The objective essentially is to get the government of the Jamaica Labour Party to understand that this rampant plundering of the taxpayers' resources must stop. We will know whether the message have (sic) got through if they meet the demands that we have placed, and if it hasn't got through, we are going to continue to shout it from the streets, shout it from the rooftops, shout it from the communities until the corrupt behaviour which involves the misuse and plundering of the people's resources stops," Dr. Phillips declared.
Following the march, Dr. Phillips told the prime Minister in a letter that "on various occasions and have expressed concerns about a number of issues of national importance. These include the major issues of the unacceptable levels of crime and violence across the island and the unprecedented numerous instances of irregularities and corruption scandals occurring within your Administration."
"The ineffective responses and in some instances your silence as Head of Government, have created serious concerns, despair and frustration among citizens, including members of the PNP. This has resulted in the massive protests occurring today," said Phillips.
"Jamaicans are distressed and afraid because of the daily wanton acts of crime and violence. The Government has failed to present a crime control plan with a strategic and programmatic approach to the implementation of creative solutions and expected outcomes. The Government’s continuing use of States of Emergency is simply not working or sustainable as a crime fighting measure," he declared.
The Opposition Leader pointed out that " an overwhelming majority of Jamaicans are disturbed and upset about the many instances of plundering of taxpayers’ money, which are being uncovered in rapid succession in various government Ministries and agencies, since the advent of your Administration and continuing."
Dr. Phillips outlined a series of scandalous incidents that have plagued the administration over the past three and a half years:
- The $800 million de-bushing scandal where the Contractor General found that the selection of contractors lacked transparency and accountability and a corruption-enabling mechanism was used to make payments.
- The $240 million Police used cars scandal, which is not yet resolved.
- The Firearm Licensing Authority Scandal.
- The $17 M Welcome sign in Montego Bay.
- The Stolen Funds at Dunn’s River Falls Scandal.
- The Misuse of funds at the Students’ Loan Bureau.
- The Petrojam scandal involving:
- Oil losses amounting to billions of dollars
- Directors reimbursed millions of dollars for travel, not taken
- Nepotism in the hiring of staff
- The breach of the procurement rules, resulting in overspending – nearly $100 million for a wall that was initially estimated to cost $29 million
- Spending on a US$1000 cake for the portfolio Minister
- An employee with political connections terminated with a “golden handshake” of millions of taxpayers’ money, despite her poor performance.
- The National Energy Solutions (NESoL) scandal - $35 million found under the bed of an employee of NESoL and questionable contracts granted.
- The Universal Service Fund (USF) scandal.
- The various scandals still being unearthed in the Ministry of Education and its agencies.
- The Caribbean Maritime University ongoing scandal.
- The Bernard Lodge lands scandal where over 200 small farmers occupying the lands for over a decade, many with lease agreements, were told to move as the lands had been divested, apparently in breach of the land divestment policy.
- The Rooms on the Beach scandal involving the divestment of property in breach of procurement guidelines, and based on the Contractor General’s report, the sale price being agreed by Ministers, resulting in the property which was in demand, being sold for 47% of its value, and US$6.3 million, just short of $1 Billion Jamaican dollars, less than its value.
- The National Insurance Fund scandal relating to irregularities involving $600 million.
He said Citizens are equally concerned that no punitive action has been taken in any of these matters by any of the agencies tasked with investigating or pursuing sanctions against corruption and corrupt conduct. It would appear that the entire anti-corruption architecture in the country has broken down and is not functioning as intended. It has actually been suggested by some persons that this failure is deliberate.