PSOJ raps Gov't over Rooms on the Beach deal

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PSOJ raps Gov't over Rooms on the Beach deal

Monday, May 20, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) has chided the Government for its lack of disclosure of details surrounding the sale of the 'Rooms on the Beach Report' property at a heavily discounted price.

In its first comments on the controversial report done by the former Office of the Contractor General (OCG) on the sale, the PSOJ noted that it appears that the Integrity Commission is satisfied that there has been no criminal wrongdoing in the matter.

“That is also welcome news as the country has had enough of scandal and corruption,” said the PSOJ.

“It seems that either out of a sense of zeal or youthful exuberance our Minister of Economic Growth and Job Creation has in his haste trampled on governance protocol and ignored the statutory mandate of the UDC (Urban Development Corporation) board to execute State policy,” added the PSOJ in clear reference to minister without portfolio in the ministry Daryl Vaz.

According to the private sector group, while the State is entirely within its right to vary its policy on divestment the reasons for such variance must be made clear at the time of the variance and the statutory board with responsibility for the assets of the country must conduct the transaction in the terms of that varied policy or act in accordance with its conscience and resign if it disagrees.

“The consequence of this is the widening of the already vast trust deficit existing in civil society and to leave room for the fertile Jamaican rumour shop to go to work.

“A simple act of transparent communication at the time of the conclusion of the transaction could have avoided the aggravation of our national cynicism,” added the PSOJ.

In the meantime the President of the PSOJ, Howard Mitchell has repeated his call for, “the Government to improve its governance and the transparency of its processes, so as to accelerate the growth that the Economic Growth Council has been seeking for the past three years”.

In its report of the sale of the beach front property to Puerto Caribe Properties Limited, the operators of Moon Palace Jamaica, the OCG charged that ministerial interference caused the UDC to sell the properties for US$7.2 million, although it had initially set a sale price of US$9.3 million and had received independent valuations which gave a cumulative lowest value of US$11.8 million.

However, Vaz has denied undue interference in the sale and has argued that the project involved an investment valued at US$225 million in the first phase and US$270 million in the second phase.

Vaz also said that the investment was earmarked to create 2,200 direct jobs during the first construction phase and 600 permanent jobs. In the second phase it is projected to create an additional 1,500 jobs during the construction phase and 3,000 indirect jobs.

Arthur Hall

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