Holness brings Outameni grouse to IMF team
Debbie-Ann Wright, News Editor - Radio
Opposition leader Andrew Holness has taken his grouse over the purchase by the National Housing Trust of the Outameni property in Trelawny to a review team of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The team from the IMF is currently in the island carrying out its sixth staff review of Jamaica’s economic programme with the Fund.
In a post on his official Facebook page, Holness says he met with members of the review team yesterday.
He says he discussed with them the purchase of the Outameni property by the Government of Jamaica.
Holness reportedly pointed out to the IMF Review team that the purchase has undermined public trust and will have implications for the Government’s quest to secure an extended wage freeze agreement with workers.
Holness says he also indicated to the IMF that he understands it to be a general requirement of the fiscal responsibility framework that the Government act prudently in spending public funds and seek to divest loss-making entities.
However, Holness says in this case the government has irresponsibly used taxpayers' money, to bail out a private loss-making entity.
According to Holness, to make matters worse, the legality of the action is in question.
The four member review team is expected to state its assessment of Jamaica’s performance so far under its 4-year IMF programme at a media briefing today.
However, the Economic Programme Oversight Committee has already indicated that the country surpassed all quantitative targets for the quarter ending in September and should pass the next IMF test.
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Tourism Ministry, Jennifer Griffith, says she has no information that the Ministry was approached through the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) to buy the Outameni attraction in 2012/2013.
She also told The Gleaner/Power 106 News Centre she has no knowledge or information that the Tourism Minister wrote to the management of Outameni declining the offer to purchase.
Her response follows revelations yesterday by opposition legislator Daryl Vaz that the management of Outameni had sought to attract the interest of the TEF after the current People’s National Party Administration took power.
Vaz claims that following a study, the Tourism Ministry indicated that it was not interested in buying the bankrupt property.
According to him, it was determined that the tourist attraction was not viable.
And it's also been revealed that former Prime Ministre Bruce Golding had given directions for then Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett to explore options to assist the failing entity.
Bartlett has told The Gleaner that he focused his attention at the time on the Tourism Enhancement Fund.
He said he was, however, unable to carry out Golding's instructions, as he was replaced as tourism minister, soon after.
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