NO HANKY-PANKY

Bunting vows to fight corruption scourge if elected PNP president

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

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FORMER Minister of National Security Peter Bunting is adamant that there were no allegations of corruption against members of the People's National Party's Administration that rose to the level of the Cabinet during the 2011 to 2016 period when it last served as the Government.

Bunting, who officially launched his campaign to become the next PNP president on Sunday, was strident as he declared that under his leadership of the party or the Government, corruption would not be tolerated.

“Integrity is not just a word to me, it is a way of life. Many of us who grow on a farm know the only way the crop or the animal come good is if you put in the work,” declared Bunting as the music selector segued to Anthony B's Raid the Barn with the lyrics, “Nobody want to plant the corn. Everybody want to raid the barn.”

Bunting followed the musical break with the declaration: “So for whoever out there who want to raid the barn let me say it clear, once and for all — under my watch there will be zero tolerance for any financial hanky-panky. Politicians must stay away from taxpayers' money or be prepared to wear short pants.”

During a Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange yesterday, Bunting was pressed on his lack of public reaction to allegations of corruption during the last PNP Administration, while he was a member of the Cabinet. But he countered that there were no corruption allegations that rose to the level of the Cabinet during the period he served.

“I can't say that there were no allegations, but I am not aware of any credible case of corruption brought to the public's attention during that time,” said Bunting.

“And neither are you,” quipped Mark Golding, Bunting's campaign chairman, who served as the minister of justice during the last PNP Government.

“I think you are conflating previous ones (administrations), but the last one, there was nothing of that nature,” added Golding.

The Bunting team further argued that 2011 to 2016 issues, such as the construction of shops in Spalding, Clarendon, the allegations of fraud surrounding the Manchester Parish Council, and the handling of contracts in St Ann South Eastern, were neither Cabinet nor Government issues, and they were handled by the relevant agencies.

Bunting told the Observer reporters and editors that allegations of corruption levelled against the PNP, such as the Trafigura and NetServ sagas, occurred before he was a part of the Administration.

“Yes, I was a supporter of the party, but I was neither in the party's leadership nor in the Government, so I have no first-hand information around these. I was not sitting around the table at that time,” declared Bunting.

“Certainly, the ones (allegations of corruption) that the JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) trots out don't coincide with any time I served as a minister, and I don't recall them coinciding with the time I served in Parliament between 93 and 97,” Bunting added.

During the launch of his 'Rise United' campaign at Manchester High School on Sunday, Bunting had pointed to the high level of corruption in Jamaica and declared that it is time for the people to turn to a party that can protect them.

“The media has to search hard for new things to report because the Jamaican people are tired of the daily reports of corruption, nepotism, cronyism…more ism and schism than anyone could have imagined.

“If is not Petrojam scandal, it is bushing scandal, or CMU (Caribbean Maritime University) scandal, or JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) used car scandal...yet (Prime Minister) Andrew Holness and the JLP Government don't look too worried,” charged Bunting, as he pushed his bid to be elected president when Comrades vote on September 7.


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