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Holness writes PM on handling of 381MW project

Published:Thursday | May 1, 2014 | 12:00 AM

The Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) wants Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to act immediately upon her return to the island later today, in relation to the growing controversy regarding Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell's handling of the 381-megawatt project.

Simpson Miller, who yesterday attended the ACS Summit in Mexico, is being asked to demonstrate action, accountability and efficiency as outlined in her Budget presentation on Tuesday.

Said Holness: "Let us see if she will walk the walk."

"We all need and want lower energy costs. No one ... wants the energy minister or this project to fail. In this context, perhaps we have as a country, up to now, been willing to give Minister Paulwell some benefit of the doubt in his conduct of this portfolio," Holness said in a press release.

He said the Opposition, the private sector and civil society had cautioned that if the proper process was not followed, the country might end up with only bad choices.

"The minister has wasted two and a half years of Jamaicans' time that should have been spent delivering an alternative energy solution. He is failing us as a nation. He is accountable to the people of Jamaica, and we are where we are today for no reason other than his actions, his choices and his decisions," Holness added.

Concern to all

According to the JLP leader, the most recent revelation regarding Paulwell's approach to the concerns raised by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) should be of concern to all Jamaicans.

Holness questioned: "How can you as a Cabinet minister, approach the contractor general of Jamaica, the person commissioned by Parliament to keep ministers honest in terms of procedures and contracts, and ask him to say that his position was an error, or that it was incorrect? This is beyond excusable - and certainly not likely to make the IDB feel any better about the process."

In an interview with journalists on Tuesday, Paulwell disclosed that the Government was considering approaching the IDB to ask that it respond favourably to a loan request from Energy World International.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com