'I'm different from Portia'
Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
ARGUING THAT he paid the political price for telling the truth about the pending hardships facing the country in the run-up to the 2011 general election, Opposition Leader Andrew Holness declared yesterday that Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has failed to keep a plethora of promises she made to the Jamaica people.
"I never butter it up. I never pretty it up. I tell you what was going to happen. I am not a liar," Holness said as he addressed supporters during the Jamaica Labour Party's annual conference at the National Arena.
Lashing the prime minister for reportedly carrying the country wide in the National Housing Trust's (NHT) controversial $180-million acquisition of a property in Trelawny which housed the Outameni Experience tourist attraction, the JLP leader said he was not like Simpson Miller.
"I stand here today to give you my commitment. I am different from Portia Simpson Miller. I pay the price for being different from regular politics," he said to thunderous applause.
According to Holness, the prime minister told parliamentarians that she only knew of the purchase of the Orange Grove property a few weeks ago.
He charged that it has now been revealed that the prime minister had "intimate knowledge of what was happening".
He added: "For the prime minister to say, 'I am ignorant, I don't know' means only two things: one, she was negligent in her duties to supervise the board of the NHT, in which case she should resign as prime minister … ."
Second, he said if the board hid the details of the purchase from the prime minister, when she found out and if she accepted that the action was not right, she would then have a duty to fire the chairman and the board.
However, he said Simpson Miller came to Parliament to obfuscate, and confuse the Jamaican people.
Simpson Miller told Parliament last week that the NHT purchased the property to build houses and to establish a cultural attraction for students and visitors.
On the question of accountability, Holness said the prime minister fell short on a promise made in her inauguration speech that she would give the country an accountable Government.
Additionally, he said the prime minister made promises she could not keep.
"You went to bed with a lullaby telling you everything is going to be all right, but you wake up with Peter Phillips a throw tax on you left, right and centre," he said.
"You cannot trust these people I am different from Portia Simpson Miller," he insisted.