Opposition Senator says Tourism Minister should resign over planned TEF drawdown
Opposition Senator Noel Sloley says Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett should resign over the use of money from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) for government operations.
Sloley, who is a player in the tourism sector, argued this afternoon in the Senate that Bartlett allowed his other Cabinet colleagues to overpower him authorising the use of TEF money outside its mandate.
The issue has led to a conflict between the Government and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association which has strongly objected to the money transfer.
Finance Minister Audley Shaw has said it will be government policy to incorporate surpluses from public bodies to help with central government operations.
However, Sloley said while he's not against the reform of public bodies, funds for dedicated purposes should be used for just that. However, with the government going ahead despite the outcries, Sloley said Bartlett should go.
He said he intends to ask the opposition to commit to reversing the decision when it goes back into power.
Meanwhile, Senator Solely says Jamaicans who are hard-pressed under the current economic climate should be given a temporary relief from paying contributions to the National Housing Trust (NHT).
He argues that the cash-rich public body continues to take billions from poor Jamaicans each year without giving them any benefits.
All employed persons and businesses are required by law to contribute to the NHT.
The opposition senator argues that poor contributors, those close to retirement and small entrepreneurs, who do not qualify for a benefit should be given a temporary suspension from making contributions.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness has been heavily criticised for taking $11.4 billion from the NHT for Budget support.
While in opposition he said he would not take money from the Trust.