Tue | Nov 12, 2019

Phillips slaps Holness for rewarding corruption

Published:Monday | February 11, 2019 | 12:23 AM

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips used a national broadcast last night to cast the Holness administration as punch-drunk on corruption and urged the security forces and other state bodies to restore public confidence by pursuing criminal prosecutions.

Painting a canvas of cronyism stretching across various ministries and departments, Phillips appealed to law enforcement as “Jamaica’s ultimate line of defence” against “widespread mismanagement and corruption that have penetrated almost every area of the Government’s operations”.

“To combat the present wave of corruption, we call on all relevant agencies, including the police, the National Integrity Commission, and MOCA (Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency) to act fearlessly and expeditiously to prosecute wrongdoers, no matter who they are,” Phillips said.

The opposition leader sought to tap into national outrage over a scandal that has swirled around oil refinery Petrojam since mid-2018, triggering investigations and setting off a sequence of resignations, including the energy minister’s. Dr Andrew Wheatley bowed to public pressure over a string of management excesses under his portfolio ranging from recruitment irregularities, to procurement breaches, to contract overruns and multimillion-dollar birthday bashes.

“All hopes that with Prime Minister (Andrew) Holness taking over the energy portfolio, rampant corruption would have been brought under control and procedures put in place for greater accountability are rapidly fading.

“Instead, under the prime minister’s watch as portfolio minister, corruption at Petrojam seems to have been more rewarded than penalised. It is a shameful waste of your hard-earned money and is holding back the country,” he said in a message aimed at taxpayers.