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Opposition ready to spar with Gov't over clean-up programme

Published:Friday | November 25, 2016 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott

The Parliamentary Opposition is declaring that cooperation between itself and the Government in the Lower House will not be guaranteed.

Leader of Opposition Business in the Lower House of Parliament Phillip Paulwell yesterday told The Gleaner that the standoff between the Government and the Opposition over the $600 million island-wide clean-up programme being carried out by the National Works Agency has left the Opposition with limited options.

"We are not going to tolerate this and whatever it takes to ensure that the Government gets the message, we intend to do that," Paulwell said while adding that the Government has compromised the good faith between the Government and Opposition.

Paulwell, the member of Parliament for East Kingston and Port Royal, is also claiming that the Government has breached an agreement it had with the Opposition regarding how matters relating to works are handled, developed in response to a fallout over the distribution of Labour Day work back in May.

Paulwell recalled that the agreement was made in June between himself and Derrick Smith, the minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister and leader of government business in the Lower House, on the instruction of Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

"Minister Derrick Smith and myself did meet and we agreed that in relation to these matters, everybody would be made aware and that there would be equal sharing of resources except for the leader of the opposition and the prime minister," said Paulwell.

He explained that the new attitude the Opposition will be embracing going forward would mean that Government ministers would find it difficult to do work on days scheduled for Parliament to sit.


Tension necessary


He said the tension that will result is necessary to bring home to the Holness-led administration "that we are not going to settle for foolishness".

Continued Paulwell: "Until they understand that they need the support of the Opposition for this country not to get back into a state of civil upset, I think we have a duty."

In responding to the threat from Paulwell, Smith accused him of unfairly prejudging the outcome of an ongoing probe.

He argued that having asked the Office of the Contractor General to investigate the issue, the Opposition should have waited for the investigation to conclude before pronouncing a verdict on the matter.

"To my sure knowledge, the contractor general has not concluded his investigation, but Mr Paulwell and the Opposition have gone ahead and arrived at a judgement," Smith said.

Smith said that upon the ruling of the contractor general, the Government would take the necessary actions.