Sat | Dec 14, 2019

NHT board misled PM?

Published:Wednesday | November 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM

WEST PORTLAND Member of Parliament Daryl Vaz has suggested that the board of the National Housing Trust (NHT) has misled Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller by informing her that the Outameni Experience was not acquired for tourism-related purposes.

Opposition Leader Andrew Holness yesterday asked the prime minister if she was aware that the purchase and operation of tourist attractions fell outside of the statutory mandate of the NHT as defined by the NHT Act of 1979.

In her response, Simpson Miller said Holness' question was based on a false premise, noting that the NHT has not purchased the business known as Outameni Experience, but has acquired the property at Orange Grove in Trelawny. "The NHT has not purchased the assets, goodwill, or brand associated with Outameni Experience with the exception of the stand-by generator, fuel tank, and office furniture," she said.

plans for income

However, NHT's chairman, Easton Douglas, had indicated that the Trelawny-based property had plans to tap income from student tours as well as cruise and stopover tourists.

Documents obtained by The Gleaner's Sunday Business also indicate that the NHT based its sales forecast on the attraction company's past income statements and projected visitor inflows from the Jamaica Tourist Board.

The Trust projected that the attraction would break even in its third year of operation, by which time the business is expected to be turning over $50 million in annual revenue.

Vaz told his parliamentary colleagues yesterday that he had no reason to second-guess the prime minister's responses but noted that her answers have raised questions about who is telling the truth in the Outameni saga.

Commenting on the acquisition of what he called the "OUT-OF-MONEY", Vaz said comments by board members and the chairman of the Trust are not in line with remarks made by Simspon Miller.

"What was the purpose of the purchase of Outameni? Based on the comments made by board members up to this morning (yesterday), I deem them based on what the prime minister has clarified this afternoon (yesterday) as dishonest, contemptuous, arrogant, and, furthermore questioning the judgment of the contributors and the people of this country".

"How is it now that we are hearing today (yesterday) that it is a land for development?" Vaz asked of the acquisition.

"The public demands no less than the resignation of the board of the NHT," he said.