Fri | Dec 15, 2017

OPM takes issue with Gleaner headline

Published:Wednesday | September 27, 2017 | 12:16 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Director of Communications and Public Affairs in the Office of the Prime Minister Robert Nesta Morgan has called for Dionne Jackson Miller, president of the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), "to provide clarity to the public" on an article published by The Gleaner that he has described as misleading.

Morgan charged that the headline of the article, 'Not you, madam!', which was published last Friday by The Gleaner, is unfortunate.

"The truth is the Prime Minister did not tell the Political Ombudsman, "NOT YOU, MADAM" and the ascription of such strong and undiplomatic language to him is inconsistent with his approach and also incongruent with the principles of accuracy and fairness which we hope all journalists aspire to," contended Morgan in his letter to the PAJ president.

"We trust that being a fair minded person who values accurate and fair reporting of matters of public interest, you will agree that the ascription of motive and a particular tone to the Prime Minister's statement by the media group of which you are a member was misleading and consequently unfair," Morgan added.

At the Prime Minister's second quarterly press conference at Jamaica House on Friday, Jackson Miller quizzed Holness on concerns that were raised by Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown in relation to the spending of $626 million to carry out rehabilitation works on the Junction road in St Mary.

Parchment Brown, in a recent news release, had said: "I am warning against any abuse of public resources in support of a political agenda."

Questions and responses

The following are Jackson's Miller questions on the matter and the Prime Minister's responses in verbatim.

Question from Radio Jamaica's Dionne Jackson Miller:

Following up on Janella's question, Mr Prime Minister, is it then that you reject completely the concerns which have been expressed by the Political Ombudsman in regards to the timing of this particular project (Junction road)?

Prime Minister Holness responds:

Let me start with concerns that have been raised. The Contractor General, the constituted authority to oversee the contracting process and the National Contracts Commission (NCC) also has a constituted role in terms of statutory role in ensuring the contract process is integrous and I respond to them in these matters.

The Government is not using state resources for partisan benefit and that is just a definitive statement and in this particular matter for the allocation of resources for the road, there is no basis for anyone to lodge any complaints for political abuse of public resources.

Question from Dionne Jackson Miller:

You said there is no basis for concern about the Junction road but my question had been in relation to the considered concern that had been expressed by the Political Ombudsman so I am asking, yes or no, do you reject the concerns that had been expressed by the political ombudsman?

Response from the prime minister:

Your second question about whether or not the concerns raised about the $600 million road improvement are valid I would say, they are not valid, but there is a general concern about how public resources are spent, particularly, closer to an election for partisan benefit and we are always prepared to engage in a conversation, in a process to have oversight of that, in fact that would be a part of our bipartisan talks to see how we can mitigate that, so I am prepared to address those issues.