OPM Permanent Secretary was unaware of Outameni purchase <br />

OPM Permanent Secretary was unaware of Outameni purchase

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

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KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Onika Miller, says that she was not aware of the Outameni/Orange Grove property transactions until she read it in the press last month.
Answering questions from members of Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) at Gordon House this morning, Miller said that she was not informed either by the board of the National Housing Trust (NHT), or the Director of Planning and Development in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Sonia Hyman, who sits on the board.
Miller’s disclosure this morning suggests that Hyman, who was a member of the board between 2005 and 2007, and was re-appointed following the change of government in 2012, was perhaps the only person in the OPM hierarchy who was aware of the transaction prior to the disclosure in the press. Both Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, under whose portfolio the NHT falls, and the permanent secretary have now publicly stated that they were not aware of the transaction prior to its publication in the press.
The permanent secretary was grilled at length by Opposition Spokesman on Finance and Planning, Audley Shaw, on the issue this morning, triggering some noisy exchanges between government and opposition members during the PAAC meeting.
Miller insisted that she was not made aware of the Outameni/Orange Grove transaction, nor any other issue which has featured in the current controversy involving the NHT’s purchase of the property and plans to operate the Outameni tourist attraction as an investment at an initial cost of close to $300 million, prior to the press publication.
Miller also stated that although she was aware that the Trust is recruiting a new managing director to replace Cecile Watson, who was fired in April, she could not say what stage the process has reached.
Balford Henry

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