Sat | Dec 10, 2016

Manley NHT rage - Founder's daughter blasts PM, Douglas for Outameni buy

Published:Saturday | November 8, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Outameni Experience - File

Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer

SARAH MANLEY, the second daughter of the late Prime Minister Michael Manley - who founded the National Housing Trust (NHT) - has lashed out against the purchase of Outameni Experience - the bankrupt theme attraction in Trelawny bought by the trust.

Manley, through her Facebook account has left no holds barred on her feelings about the purchase which she considered scandalous, outrageous and a betrayal of the trust's mandate.

She said Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller should have answered questions tabled by Opposition Leader Andrew Holness "now" instead of the 21-days stipulation.

The government has indicated that it will answer in seven days instead of the 21 days.

In a post to her timeline on October 30 at 12:07 a.m, Manley let her anger loose as she responded to the story of the purchase in the Business section of The Gleaner.

SOLE PURPOSE

"The National Housing Trust (NHT) Act was passed in 1979. Its functions as outlined in Part 4, Section 1, are "to add to and improve the existing supply of housing by - promoting housing projects, making available to such contributors as may be prescribed loans ... for housing" and Part 3 "encouraging and stimulating improved methods of production of houses" This is not a mandate that can "diversify" said Manley in an October 30 post at 12:07 a.m.

Continuing, she said, " ... The Trust exists for a sole purpose, and its purpose is self explanatory. To suggest that the acquisition of a failing theme park is a legal use of the trust is sophistry. It's inexplicable that the executives of this agency would seek to defend this breach of the public trust by hiding behind its investment in the public Emancipation Park. Even that strayed from the mandate of the Trust. If we keep fing with the foundations that have been laid for the development of a sound and equitable society we will very soon have nothing left to build on."

There were 35 comments and long discussions on the subject on her wall.

On November 4, at 8:11 a.m. in response to the call by businessman Patrick Casserly that Jamaicans should speak out about the purchase Manley said with dogged persistence:

"Like a dog with a bone. Not letting this issue go. The NHT is not a political institution. The money MUST be returned to the Trust, and Easton Douglas, your poor judgement and SOPHISTRY in this matter should end your political career."

There were 14 comments in response to her posting.

Later in the day at 3:08 p.m. she again wrote: "Watching Parliament live to see if this issue of the misuse of NHT funds to buy a failing attraction is raised. If you agree that this is not a matter that should be allowed to just die, like this post. Just that."

The post received 33 likes and discussions and comments began.

But Manley in response to the discussion in the thread said: "The Opposition leader has tabled questions for the PM to answer. Saying there was an amendment to the act in 2005 is NOT an acceptable response as that amendment expired in 2006. It is disingenuous to suggest it does and further I am shocked at the cavalier manner in which Mr (Easton) Douglas refereed to a $300-million dollar expenditure."

Later in the day, 8:56 p.m., Manley again posted on her timeline the following quote.

"I think we have given up. As a people, as a nation. Even issues we all agree should be championed we pay lip service to but we don't act. Today, in the House of Representatives, the prime minister of jamaica was formally asked to explain to the nation the circumstances under which the National Housing Trust's guiding principles where breached. This is an example of action. We need to recognise that this is the mechanism by which we call for and demand change."

More than 25 persons engaged in a discussion on the matter including persons from the business and university communities.

On Thursday, Ms Manley, in response to the story that private-sector groups questioned the acquisition, she wrote: "Giving this even more thought today, I realised that I could think of many other ways to benefit education with $300 million. So even if the education argument held water, which it doesn't, a theme park? Really? Are we so up to date with our schools, that we can now turn our attention to buying theme parks?"

Meanwhile, opposition spokesman on housing, Dr Horace Chang, yesterday revealed that the former Jamaica Labour Party administration had been approached to purchase the Outameni Experience in Trelawny but refused the request.

Dr Chang told The Gleaner Power 106 News that the request came towards the end of the party's term in government.

However, he could not say who or what entities had made the request. "It wouldn't come to me directly, so I don't have names. But I know it was approached and it was rejected. I can say that positively," Chang stressed.

Erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com