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Portia calls for PM's word on Manatt controversy

Published:Tuesday | April 20, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Dr Omar Davies, opposition spokesman on finance, makes a point during a press conference at the party's headquarters in St Andrew yesterday. Looking on is Leader of the People's National Party, Portia Simpson Miller. - Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

THE LEADER of the Opposition, Portia Simpson Miller, has demanded that Prime Minister Bruce Golding remove the cloud of mystery associated with the Manatt, Phelps and Phillips controversy when he speaks in the Budget Debate today.

"I would hope that the Government of Jamaica would give us the truth and nothing but the truth on Manatt, Phelps and Phillips before we get the information from news media in the United States of America," Simpson Miller said.

She was addressing a post-Budget press conference put on by the People's National Party (PNP) at its Old Hope Road headquarters in St Andrew yesterday.

Prime Minister Golding will be making his third Budget presentation as prime minister. Finance Minister Audley Shaw closes the Debate tomorrow.

Shaw has outlined expenditure plans for $503 billion, which is to be financed through tax revenue and grants of $326.3 billion, and borrowings of $176.3 billion.

No credibility

The Opposition has contended that the Budget outlined by Shaw lacks credibility and will result in untold hardships for Jamaicans.

"We have no reason to have any confidence in this Budget. We believe that it was constructed on the same false premise as the last Budget and will yield the same results: more hardship and more confusion," Simpson Miller said.

"The prime minister must tell us of the measures to ease the pressure on the Jamaican people," she added.

Meanwhile, the opposition leader was particularly strident about the Manatt, Phelps and Phillips matter, which was first brought to public attention locally by opposition back-bencher Dr Peter Phillips.

Phillips raised the issue in Parliament during a debate, but Golding dismissed the matter, saying he was seeking headlines.

Information then unfolded which linked the Jamaican Government to the United States law firm.

Attorney-at-law Harold Brady, who is listed as acting on behalf of the Jamaican Government, said an error was made in him being listed as a consultant for the Government.

Speculation has been rife that Manatt, Phelps and Phillips was engaged to lobby the US government on the issue of the extradition request for West Kingston strongman Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

"The prime minister himself got up and defended the issue in Parliament. We would like to hear from him on it," Simpson Miller said.

Robert Pickersgill, chairman of the PNP, said Prime Minister Golding's "silence is too deafening", and that it was in the country's interest that the prime minister add clarity to the matter.

- daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com