Sun | Jul 12, 2020

Phillips accuses PM of shielding Vaz; wants investigation into Holywell controversy

Published:Sunday | June 28, 2020 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
People's National Party (PNP) co-campaign director Peter Bunting (left) shares a moment with party PNP President Dr Peter Phillips at a meeting of councillors and councillor caretakers at The Mico University College in Kingston earlier today.

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips has accused Prime Minister Andrew Holness of shielding his embattled cabinet minister, Daryl Vaz, who was recently stripped of his environment portfolio responsibilities, following revelation of a controversial offer to lease lands bordering the Holywell National Forest Park for a development. 

The park, in rural St Andrew, is part of the Blue and John Crow Mountains, which is protected and recognised as a World Heritage Site.       

Vaz had said that he knew the “sensitivity” of his position in government when he offered to lease the lands to build a private cabin. He was forced to come public following a Jamaica Observer report in which the caretakers of the park raised concerns that the National Land Agency (NLA) was leasing lands within the buffer zone of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.
  
The NLA buckled under public pressure and has, without explanation so far, withdrawn the offer to lease the lands for 25 years at $120,000 per annum. 

Speaking today at People’s National Party (PNP) councillors retreat at the Mico College University in Kingston, Dr Phillips asserted that Holness has being shielding Vaz despite the numerous red flags being raised about his conduct in government.  
  
“The minister was not only named in the problem with bushing, but was named in relation to the disgraceful sale of Jamaican people’s assets in Ocho Rios- Rooms hotel scandal, and then now he is named again in the Holywell scandal.” 
  
Vaz has since been placed in charge of water and housing, but Phillips in dissatisfied. He argued that the shift was not a sanction against Vaz. 
  
“He indicated that if he did not get back his visa he would resign. There has been no resignation. The prime minister cannot be silent” Phillips declared.  
  
He called for the prime minister to say whether an investigation had been launched into Vaz's role in the Holywell controversy.    

“This occurrence is taking place after one minister has had to resign from the Ministry of Energy and another minister has been charged and is before the court … this can’t go so. Dem ya man ya different. 
  
“It can’t go so,” Phillips asserted while shaking his head.

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