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NHT buyout of Outameni a violation, Chang charges

Published:Friday | October 31, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Dr Horace Chang, opposition spokesman on housing, is expressing outrage at the decision by the National Housing Trust (NHT) to purchase the Trelawny-based attraction Outameni Experience. He is calling for the Government to disclose details of the controversial deal.

The Gleaner's Wednesday Business reported this week that the NHT appeared to be tweaking its business model by diversifying into attraction ownership with the acquisition of Outameni from Lennie Little-White for $180 million.

The agency, which hopes to have the facility up and running within this financial year, will spend $111 million on upgrades over a three-year period.

But yesterday, while referencing existing legislation, Chang said: "Based on the provisions set out in the National Housing Trust Act of 1979, the NHT was created primarily to provide affordable housing solutions for its contributors."

He added: "As legislators, we have a duty to guard against any abuse of funds held in trust on behalf of the hard-working people of Jamaica. Further, we have an obligation to ensure that actions taken by the Government and its agencies are legal and above board."

Said Chang: "There is nothing stated or implied in the legislation that can show how this controversial J$291 million buyout accomplishes the goals of the NHT Act. This, therefore, seems to be a clear violation of the Trust, and the Government has an obligation to provide answers and take action where necessary, to protect the integrity of this noble institution."