Christie challenges Gov't

Christie challenges Gov't

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

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CONTRACTOR General Greg Christie has challenged the Government to reveal any evidence it has to support its allegations that his office is impeding economic growth, and delaying implementation of major investments.

In a release yesterday, Christie said that no evidence existed to support the Government's "patently false and damaging" positions and pronouncements, and urged the Administration to cease what he described as a "deliberate attempt to publicly undermine the authority and integrity of his office".

Christie, in his lengthy press release, was responding to the decision of the Government to appoint an Independent Oversight Panel (IOP), as well as Cabinet's approval of the continuation of three infrastructural projects — Highway 2000 North-South link; the Gordon Cay Container Transshipment hub, and the Fort Augusta Container Terminal — despite concerns raised by the OCG.

He noted that while the Government insists that the highway contract is a "financially viable and strictly commercial transaction", in which China Habour Engineering Company (CHEC) will be given a 50-year concession to operate the toll road to recoup its investment, Government's own advisers have projected that the return will be much less than the investment.

Christie said that in the circumstances the Government should state why a commercially non-viable proposal is being labelled and marketed to the Jamaican people as a strictly commercial transaction when it does not meet the criteria of a commercially viable proposal.

"What benefit(s), whether current or future, does CHEC intend to ensure from the GOJ (Government of Jamaica), or from the taxpayers and/or people of Jamaica, by undertaking what is a commercially non-viable transaction?" Christie asked.

He also asked why the Government was unable or unwilling to disclose the full particulars of the non-viability of the transaction and to describe it for what it is — an apparent gift to the people of Jamaica.

"How, when, and by what means will the Jamaican taxpayer pay back CHEC for its investment, since the present proposed 50-year concession at the projected toll rates are significantly incapable of doing so?

"Why are both the Government and certain members of the Opposition in a rush to have this 'investment' agreement consummated? Christie asked.

"What were the bases upon which the NCC, in offering its no-objection to the project, having being fully informed that the project was not a commercially viable one, referred the matter to the Ministry of Finance and Planning to, among other things, discuss the merits of the proposal?"

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