AMENDED: New information reveals Outameni benefited from two JLP admin decisions
Jovan Johnson, Gleaner Writer
The Government has disclosed information indicating that the failed Outameni tourist attraction twice benefited from decisions, including a $3-million loan, under the previous Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) administration.
Tourism Minister, Dr Wykeham McNeill made the disclosure yesterday in the Parliament while responding to questions tabled by his Opposition counterpart, Shahine Robinson.
He says the interventions were made through the Tourism Ministry in December 2008 and in 2009.
McNeill says in 2008, the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) granted $7 million to repair night lighting as well as the road leading to the Trelawny property.
He told the Parliament that there was one substantial repayment of $1 million on the $3-million loan which brought the balance to approximately $2 million.
He says although court action was initiated, the TEF wrote off a $2.3 million balance on the loan after NHT purchased the property.
The NHT says it bought the property and attraction in 2012 for $180 million.
The Opposition has disclosed that former Prime Minister Bruce Golding had given directions for then Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett to explore options to assist the failing entity.
Bartlett has told The Gleaner that he focused his attention at the time on the Tourism Enhancement Fund.
However, he said he was unable to carry out Golding's instructions, as he was replaced as tourism minister, soon after.
The Opposition has led calls for the NHT board, chaired by Easton Douglas, to be sacked saying the Outameni purchase lacked transparency and breached the Trust's mandate.
Meanwhile, the Opposition’s Tourism Spokesperson says the TEF’s intervention that benefited Outameni were in keeping with the fund’s mandate.
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