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PAAC split on JET request for meeting

Balford Henry

Sunday, March 02, 2014    

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GOVERNMENT members of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of the House of Representatives on Thursday blocked an attempt by Opposition members to have the committee review issues surrounding the controversial Goat

Islands trans-shipment port project.

Government members Mikael Phillips and Denise Daley questioned the agenda of chairman Edmund Bartlett and other Opposition members supporting an urgent look at the issues by inviting the Jamaica Environmental Trust (JET), which has requested

a meeting.

Fellow Government member Fitz Jackson insisted that the committee was stepping outside its limits, under the Standing Orders, by inserting the Goat Island issue onto its agenda.

"This is not an all-purpose committee. The committee is established to deal with specific issues. Some belong here, some belong there," said Jackson. "(But) we have totally gone off track... (and) I am going to insist that we don't continue

off track".

But chairman Bartlett hit back, stating that "we must not, as a committee of Parliament, appear to be so defensive of positions that we are locking out critical elements of governance from having a legitimate request to deal with any matter whatsoever".

The comment angered Jackson, who responded: "I think you are out of order to make that remark that you just made."

"I said we have to be careful, and I repeat that. You want to say that I am telling the committee what to say?" Bartlett responded.

Opposition spokesman on finance and planning Audley Shaw tried to calm the tension.

"There is no political motive involved here," he said. "But we must make the point that the Opposition has not said that we are opposed to the Goat Islands project... This issue has nothing to do with politics whatsoever."

The committee eventually agreed to seek the advice of the clerk at another time as to whether JET can be invited.

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