Corruption clash

JLP defends its record as PNP announces anti-corruption vigil

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

Thursday, July 11, 2019

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THE governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has scoffed at claims by the People's National Party (PNP) that it is not firm enough on the issue of corruption and has chided the Opposition for its planned series of events to bring public attention to the matter.

“This is an act of barefaced political hypocrisy, and the truth is the PNP does not have the moral authority to speak. To be clear, we reject corruption in all its forms, and I think the Andrew Holness Administration has shown that it has the gumption needed to deal with the issues as they come,” Matthew Samuda, chairman of the JLP's Public Relations Committee, told the Jamaica Observer.

“If you look at the decisive leadership of Andrew Holness, every time there has been an issue he has acted appropriately,” added Samuda.

He was responding to an announcement by the PNP that it will be staging an anti-corruption vigil in Mandela Park, Half-Way Tree, St Andrew, this morning as the first in a series of events to turn the spotlight on the issue of corruption in the Holness Administration.

“This is to raise public awareness about our dissatisfaction with how this Administration is dealing with corruption and its failure to adhere to good governance,” PNP general secretary Julian Robinson told the Observer.

“We are inviting any member of the public who wants to demand an end to corruption to join us,” added Robinson as he underscored that this will not be a political meeting.

According to Robinson, this anti-corruption vigil is being planned in light of the ongoing allegations of corruption across several ministries and public bodies, and the lack of appropriate action by the Holness Administration to hold its members accountable.

He argued that there has been a brazen plundering of the public purse by members of the political executive and their operatives, who are yet to be brought to book.

“The PNP, through its parliamentary groups and committees, has exposed the wanton corruption in various ministries and agencies, including the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of National Security and the Caribbean Maritime University, Petrojam, the Universal Service Fund, National Energy Solutions Limited and the Urban Development Corporation and through projects such as the $800-million de-bushing programme and the $230-million purchase of used cars for the police that are yet to be delivered in full.

“The party believes that all well-thinking Jamaicans must be horrified at the wanton waste of taxpayers' money and the fact that no one is arrested and charged for any of these breaches,” declared Robinson.

Today's vigil is expected to see persons from the PNP's Region 3, which covers the Corporate Area, decrying the system of corruption which the party says has gripped this Government.

But Samuda argued that while allegations of corruption have been raised the Holness Administration has taken steps to show that it is determined to address this.

“The fact is that issues will come from time to time, but you can't examine this administration's approach to corruption without looking at the work that has been done, because it is easy to talk,” said Samuda.

He pointed to the legislative work done since the JLP retained state power, including the Political Parties Registration Act, the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency Act which gives independence to that entity, and the Integrity Commission Act which gives independence and prosecutorial power to that body to go after the corrupt, as proof that the Government is determined to deal with the problem.

“What is striking to me is that, whereas you have a leader in Andrew Holness who has taken tough and decisive action when necessary, the opposition cannot say the same thing. The Opposition has had challenges in this cycle of Government that they have not faced.

“We have not heard from (Opposition Leader) Dr Peter Phillips on the Manchester Parish Council scandal which has PNP councillors wrapped up in it, we have not heard from him on the case of two members of the PNP's inner circle who have been referred to either the commissioner of police or the director of public prosecutions for a ruling, based on investigations by the former contractor general.

“We have also not had anything decisive from Dr Phillips to deal with a gentleman who many people believe is the most scandal-riddled minister ever in Jamaica, Caricom and perhaps the Commonwealth,” argued Samuda.


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