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John Lynch being paid multi-million package to prepare vacations for offer to Venezuela under PetroCaribe

Published:Thursday | January 22, 2015 | 1:00 AMDaraine Luton
John Lynch

JAMAICA'S tourism authorities are putting together packages to offer the Venezuelan government as part of a move to pay down the country's approximately US$3 billion debt with the oil-producing country under the trade component mechanism of the PetroCaribe agreement.

Former Director of Tourism John Lynch has been engaged as a consultant, and will be chiefly responsible for the development of the tourism segment of the trade-component mechanism.

Lynch can earn up to $12 million, inclusive of fees and overseas travel, to provide consultancy in the area of airlift and special projects. The arrangement, which was inked in September, months after he left office as director of tourism, saw the direct-contracting method used to procure his services.

Procurement by direct contracting means only one contractor is invited to participate, and is normally done where the procurement is of a confidential nature. It is also done for the purposes of research, experiment, study or development.

"There is an aspect of the larger programme that seeks opportunities for the Government of Jamaica to provide other kinds of goods and services that could be offset against the PetroCaribe loan. For example, a month or so ago, we did a shipment of shingle. There is a tourism component, and what we hope to do is to package vacation experiences for Venezuelans in Jamaica, and if we package them right, (they) can be used to offset the loan," Jennifer Griffith, permanent secretary in the tourism and entertainment ministry said.

Griffith, as well as members of her ministry and agencies under its watch, appeared before Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee yesterday. She said the JTB would buy tourism packages from local hoteliers and seek to interest the Venezuelan government to take up the packages as part payment of Jamaica's oil debt.

Committee member Audley Shaw questioned the absence of clear deliverables for consultants such as Lynch.

The documents show that Lynch was engaged to undertake five aspects of the ministry's work. Among his tasks, Lynch is to assist with and provide advise on tourism growth strategies, particularly in the areas of airlift support. The former director of tourism is also tasked with assisting in the marketing of the Montego Bay Convention Centre, a project which has been given a US$550,000 marketing budget.