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NHT scandal forces cancellation of civil groups' meeting with PM

Published:Thursday | December 4, 2014 | 5:35 PM

Jovan Johnson, Gleaner Writer

KINGSTON, Jamaica:

A meeting of the Partnership for Transformation involving the Prime Minister scheduled for today was pushed back as members continue to express displeasure over the retention of the board of the National Housing Trust (NHT).

The board, chaired by Easton Douglas, has been at the centre of a scandal since news emerged in October that it authorised the 2012 purchase of the failing Outameni Experience tourist attraction in Trelawny for $180 million.

Various civil, private sector and environmental groups, which are part of the partnership, argue that the purchase breached the commitments of the partnership.

They also allege that the purchase is outside of the NHT’s mandate and raises numerous questions about the Trust's governance and accountability.

A representative of the environmental group which has announced plans to withdraw, Diana McCaulay, says the partnership’s governance committee informed members that today’s meeting would be pushed back until December 16.

She told The Gleaner/Power 106 News Centre that the committee is still making efforts to meet with members in order to arrive at a consensus.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has dismissed calls to sack the board.

She has accepted the board’s explanation that it did nothing illegal.

The Cabinet has also appointed four new members to the board to restore its quorum after three resignations.

In 2013, the Prime Minister signed the partnership agreement, committing to social dialogue around issues critical to the development of the nation.


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