Fri | Mar 5, 2021

PNP: Holness must 'come clean' on Bengal Development bond extension

Published:Monday | January 25, 2021 | 3:01 PM
Opposition spokesperson on land and the environment, Senator Sophia Frazer-Binns (file photo)

The People’s National Party (PNP) is urging the Government to explain why an extension has been granted for the payment of the $40 million environmental performance bond by Bengal Development Limited / Jamaica World LLC.

The PNP says the payment was due on January 19, 2021. 

Opposition spokesperson on Land, Environment and Climate Change, Senator Sophia Frazer Binns, said this latest move follows the "Government’s irresponsible use of ministerial powers under the NRCA Act to grant Bengal Development Limited / Jamaica World LLC a permit to mine and quarry bauxite, peat, sand and minerals in the Dry Harbour Mountains of St Ann."

"It is important to note that the Government of Jamaica gave a permit to Bengal Development Ltd., authorising the quarrying of fifty hectares of land in the Dry Harbour Mountain. State regulator, National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), as well as other environmental NGOs, objected to the granting of permits to mine in this ecologically fragile area," a statement from Binns read.

She added that Prime Minister Andrew Holness promised in November 2020 that he would be the first  to shut the project down if there were any breaches of the conditions of the permit. 

"The Prime Minister has a duty to tell the people of Jamaica why if failure to pay the bond is not being treated as a breach of the conditions of the permit," said Binns.

PNP is calling on the Holness-led administration to inform the country:

•          The reasons given in the request for an extension of the bond payment deadline;

•          The basis on which this extension was granted to Bengal Development Limited /  Jamaica World LLC; and

•          The recourse available if the bond is not paid when this sixty-day extension has expired

“It is troubling and perhaps a sign of things to come, that there are missed deadlines as well as requests for and approvals of extensions at this early stage in the project. The Jamaican people especially,the residents living in the area, have a right to know the truth about Bengal and if they have the capacity to execute such a project without destroying the pristine environment. The people will suffer most from the ravages this mining will naturally bring.” noted Binns.

According to her, the projected taxes and a few persons employed will not offset the lasting damage to ecological, hydrological and biodiversity of the area.

PNP says it remains unyielding in its commitment to protecting the environment and the health and safety of our people.

"We  urge the Prime Minister to live up to honour his commitment to ensure the enforcement of the terms and conditions of the permit and management of this project in order to minimise the potential damage to our country. and most of all our people who live there."

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