Sun | Oct 21, 2018

NHT puts brakes on reopening Outameni because of 'public concerns'

Published:Wednesday | November 19, 2014 | 12:54 PM

Jovan Johnson, Gleaner Writer

KINGSTON, Jamaica:

The National Housing Trust (NHT) has put on hold, the reopening of the controversial Outameni property in Trelawny, saying it does not want to appear arrogant.

The NHT had indicated that the 10-acre property on which the heritage-based tourist attraction is located, was to be reopened in January next year.

However, news that the NHT bought the property for $180 million and subsequent revelations that the decision-making process may have been compromised have caused much public outrage.

NHT board member, O’Neil Grant, says the board has decided, out of respect for the significant public concern, to halt all plans to put the property back in operation.

“It has to be put on hold, based on the discussion and the euphoria that has been created over the purchase. It doesn’t make sense we behave as if we are arrogant. It is in the interest of the country that we allow the country to get a proper understanding as to what the intention is in relation to the property before we go ahead with any further planning” said Grant.

The purpose of the property has been one of the major sources of concern as both the NHT board chairman and the Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller have made conflicting statements.

The chairman has said the property and attraction were bought in 2012 as a social investment to be run as a business.

However, the Prime Minister in her parliamentary statement on the matter, said the property, valued about $13 million, was bought and not the attraction.

Grant says the NHT chairman will be giving what he called a "full discourse" in relation to the purchase and plans for the property.

“I’m not going to go into details because I’ve not had a chance to have a finer discussion with the chairman, but I can tell the public the NHT board took a legitimate decision within its authority and we are not resigning or separating ourselves from that decision”, charged the president of the Jamaica Civil Service Association.

The Opposition has led calls for the sacking of the board over the purchase and has threatened to bring a censure motion in Parliament against the Prime Minister if she does not apologise for allegedly misleading the House.

Two board members resigned this week, joining four others who stepped down earlier this year although it’s unclear why.

Dr Davidson Daway, who resigned in March, says he does not recall a vote being taken, authorising the purchase of the Outameni property in 2012.

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