Mon | Jan 21, 2019

NHT faces more pressure, social media campaign launched to force board's resignation

Published:Sunday | November 9, 2014 | 5:40 PM
The Outameni Experience - the tourist attraction acquired by the National Housing Trust with contributors funds. - File

Pressure continues to mount against the National Housing Trust (NHT), with a new online campaign launched to force the resignation of the state-agency's board of management.

Lobby group Citizens' Action for Principles and Integrity (CAPI) said in a release to the media this afternoon that it has launched a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter, entitled: #NHTBOARDMUSTRESIGN and #OUTAMENIONEPPL, to push for the resignation of the NHT's board, including its chairman Easton Douglas.

According to CAPI’s co-convenor, Dennis Meadows, the campaign is an effective way of people, both here and overseas, communicating to the government, particularly the NHT portfolio minister, Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, their disapproval and dissatisfaction with the decision taken by the NHT board to acquire a loss-making attraction with contributors’ funds and without statutory authority.

“Further, the decision runs counter to the government’s stated policy of divesting itself of non-core operations and is contrary to the Trust’s statutory mandate, i.e. the provision of low-incoming housing solutions for its contributors," Meadows stressed in the release.

"We aim to bring pressure on the prime minister to act decisively to safeguard the interest of contributors’ funds, if the board fails to be moved by their sense of character and resign,” he added.

CAPI is further contending that "the position of the board is tenuous as it has failed in its fiduciary responsibilities to be judicious and prudent in the management of the National Housing Trust funds which, in fact, is the property of NHT contributors and not board’s to spend at will".

The lobby group reiterated its support for the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) and Auditor General to probe the Outameni acquisition.

The housing trust, which is funded by a compulsory tax imposed on working citizens, has also come under pressure from the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party, as well as, several private-sector business and civil society groups since it became public that it spent J$180 million to acquire the indebted Outameni Experience tourist attraction based in Trelawny.

"As a privately owned asset, the property has proven to be a loss-making entity, despite repeated efforts to make it a profitable tourist attraction," said the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ).

"It is questionable to now think that the Government, which generally has fewer management resources than the private sector, will now be able to bring the company to profitability. This will lead to continual losses accruing to the NHT," the PSOJ said last Thursday in its release.

But Douglas remained defiant amid the pressure, last week saying he stood by the deal.


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