Tue | Jan 23, 2018

Lack of answers on $600m bush-clearing programme sparks Opposition walkout of Parliament

Published:Tuesday | December 6, 2016 | 6:12 PM

Jovan Johnson, Parliament Reporter

The parliamentary opposition this afternoon staged a walkout of Parliament following unsuccessful attempts to get answers on the Government’s controversial $600 million bush clearing programme.

The Opposition has accused the Andrew Holness-led administration of using the bush-clearing programme to buy support ahead of last week’s local government elections.

This afternoon, leader of opposition business in the House of Representatives, Phillip Paulwell, sought to get answers from Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Paulwell stated that it was a matter requiring an urgent answer.

However, leader of government business in the House, Derrick Smith, pointed out that Holness was not in the chamber at the time and the matter could be reintroduced later, if Holness returned.


Leader of government business in the House, Derrick Smith

This response did not satisfy Paulwell, who noted that this was the last chance for the House to be given an explanation about the bush-clearing programme before the Christmas break.


Leader of Opposition business in the House of Representatives, Phillip Paulwell

He received support from Member of Parliament for South East St Andrew, Julian Robinson.

However, Smith insisted that the matter could be introduced later when Holness returned to the chamber.

He was supported by the House Speaker Pearnel Charles, who begged for good behaviour, given the presence of students, who were at the Parliament to observe proceedings.

That’s when the opposition side packed up and walked out, leaving the government members to continue the sitting by themselves.

Last week, Holness released a statement declaring that the $600 million de-bushing programme is not new and that a similar amount was spent by the previous government last year.