Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Samuda should resign over grass affair, anti-corruption group demands

Published:Wednesday | May 24, 2017 | 5:30 AM
Executive Director of the National Integrity Action, Professor Trevor Munroe says the issue showed that Samuda got personal benefit from the Government's grass project and he should "seriously consider tendering his resignation".

Pressure remains on Agriculture Minister Karl Samuda over the Mombasa grass affair with a leading anti-corruption group now calling for his resignation from the cabinet of Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Executive Director of the National Integrity Action, Professor Trevor Munroe says the issue showed that Samuda got personal benefit from the Government's grass project and he should "seriously consider tendering his resignation".

Last week, Samuda announced in Parliament that he had paid 546,000 for the 15 acres of dairy-feeding grass that the Jamaica Dairy Development Board planted on his farm in Knollis, St Catherine. 

It follows allegations from the Opposition Spokesman on Agriculture Dr Dayton Campbell that last year Samuda used his official position to get personal benefit and that he fired the chairman of the board Hugh Graham because he did not follow instructions to grant a licence to Wisynco to import milk powder.

Samuda has denied interfering with the decision to not to renew Graham's contract but admitted that he allowed the grass to be planted on his farm after the board persuaded.

He said he erred when he did not put in writing the process including when he claimed he insisted that he be paid and the board said farmers get the grass free. 

Professor Munroe says the situation is similar to the Spalding Market affair involving Richard Azan who was pressured to resign as junior minister in the Portia Simpson Miller adminstration.

He also pointed to when Mike Henry had to resign from Holness' first cabinet in 2011.

The anti-corruption campaigner says Samuda breached government transparency guidelines and should resign in the interest of good governance. 

The Jamaica Dairy Development Board is yet to give a public explanation regarding how it selected the Agriculture Minister to benefit from a project that falls under his watch. 

The Office of the Contractor General is probing the issue.