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Julian Robinson, Press Releases

Kingston, Jamaica, December 4, 2017: The People’s National Party is standing with the nation’s teachers as they seek improved wages from the government of Jamaica.

The Party says it fully understands and supports the teachers in their rejection of the latest offer as there was no attempt by the government to make any accommodation for their just demands. The party emphasised that even if the demands of the teachers and other public workers could not be fully met, it expected that they would be given a respectful and sympathetic hearing as they made significant sacrifices in the past, including helping to pull the Jamaican economy back from the brink of disaster. It is this sacrifice which has allowed the government to report macroeconomic stability.

The Shadow Cabinet asserted that reports emanating from the negotiation is that the government has been arrogant, disrespectful, intransigent and provocative.

To date, the Andrew Holness government has demonstrated a penchant to waste millions of dollars in the questionable $800 million de-bushing programme, $8.34 million telephone bill, the cash give-away in South East St Mary and road work projects that cannot be identified, while teachers, nurses and other civil servants are asked to work long hours with little hope of just rewards.

The nation’s teachers and public servants continue to serve despite low wages and rising inflation. The three percent increase being offered by the government is a lack of understanding of the situation at best and blatant disrespect for these public servants at worst.

Based on rising inflation, the three per cent wage offer would put the teachers and others in a worse off position than they were last year and it is a grab-back of the 1.5 tax refund that some may have received.

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Julian Robinson, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, December 4, 2017:  The People’s National Party (PNP) is calling on the Andrew Holness led-Government to explain to the country the implications of the newest revelations by the Ministry of National Security that it has called-in the performance bond of $40 million which was provided by O’Brien’s International Car Sales and Rental as a guarantee for the contract to provide 200 used vehicles for the police force, which is now mired in controversy.

On a radio programme this morning, the procurement director of the ministry made the disclosure and further indicated that the ministry would take no additional action to clear the vehicles until it is in receipt the Attorney General’s opinion in the matter.

The Prime Minister, therefore, needs to tell the country how this development will affect the clearing and delivery of the vehicles to the JCF to increase their mobility for the Christmas period. 

The nation has been waiting since last week Wednesday, when assurances were given to the country by the ministry, that the cars were being released on that day.

The scandalous mess has come at a time when the police is facing a serious rise in violent crimes, especially murder and the shortage of vehicles is proving to be a major obstacle in their crime-fighting ability.

Prime Minister needs to tell the country what he intends to do about the stewardship of the National Security Ministry because what prevails cannot continue in light of the present situation.

Last night alone, there were ten incidents of shooting in six parishes, which included five murders.

Since this plan to purchase used cars for the police was announced in March 2016, more than 2000 Jamaicans have been murdered and there is no letting up in the killings, even while the Minister of National Security fumbles and refuses to explain to the country why we have paid over $213 million to a contractor who has only provided 30 vehicles.

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Patriots, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, December 4, 2017:  The caucus of young professionals aligned to the People’s National Party (PNP), the Patriots says, the time has come for National Security Minister, the Hon. Robert Montague to reveal, as promised on August 18, 2017, information contained in a police investigation of his colleague, James Robertson, the Member of Parliament for Western St Thomas.

Minister Montague told the country on 18th August 2017 that the Ministry of National Security was reviewing the 2011 police investigation of activities surrounding James Robertson, which are contained in a file at the Security Ministry.

According  to the Miami Herald, “Leslie “Les” Green, a former assistant commissioner of police for the Jamaican Constabulary Force who has since retired, revealed to the Miami Herald that he investigated accusations that Robertson tried to arrange at least two murders, and found enough evidence that he recommended that prosecutors charge the politician.

“Investigations have been conducted alleging serious offenses against Robertson and others,” said Green, who is English and a former Scotland Yard detective. In 2006, the Jamaican government hired him on contract to help professionalize the force. “The Department of Public Prosecutions made a ruling there was sufficient evidence to charge Robinson.”

The Miami Herald went further, “But after carefully assembling his case, Green said, Jamaica’s Ministry of National Security refused to offer to protect one of the key witnesses. The witness fled, and the case fell apart.”

Minister Montague said, he would ask the Permanent Secretary to review the file because he wanted to be absolutely certain of the facts before commenting.  Therefore, Minister Montague can no longer claim to be “new” to the ministry as reason to delay the content of the file.

We concurred with the Gleaner’s editorial of 18th August 2017 that the ministry must offer the public a credible explanation for that decision to remove any suspicion that its motive was political.

Since taking office, the country’s crime rate continues to climb.  Despite all the claims and imposition of zones of special operations, Jamaica has the highest homicide rate in the Caribbean.

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Dr. Wykeham McNeil, Press Releases

Kingston, Jamaica, November 30, 2017: Opposition Spokesman on Tourism Dr. Wykeham McNeill is calling on Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett to clarify concerns that have been raised in the public sphere about the recently concluded UNWTO conference in Montego Bay, St. James woefully underperformed based on stated expectations.

In order to satisfy public curiosity, Dr. McNeill is asking Minister Bartlett to answer a number of questions. These questions, according to Dr. McNeill, if answered simply, should put to rest the comments that have been swirling around. His questions are:

 

  1. Is it true that a mere 252 overseas delegates attended instead of the 1000 as was originally touted? And that the only other overseas attendees were the 110 paid and sponsored presenters and media giving a total of only 362 persons from abroad?

 

  1. Is it true that only a handful of Ministers came, instead of the over 100 promised and that they were mostly from the Caribbean and Latin American region?

 

  1. And finally, is it true that in excess of the 125 million dollars allocated for the staging of this conference; did the Minister return to Cabinet for additional funds for other related expenses and overruns. If so can he indicate the total cost to the Jamaican people?

 

From as far back as March this year, Dr. McNeill had raised questions about the extravagant cost of hosting the event.  He is concerned that value for money would not have been realised if in fact less than a third of the promised attendees showed up. It is understood that additional monies had to be found to offset the over expenditure of the original budget.

 “I believe more information and clarity is required so we can determine whether we can justify the expenditure and assure the country that the benefits to accrue will be worth it,” McNeill said.

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Donna Scott Mottley, Press Releases, Sen Donna Scott-Mottley

Kingston, Jamaica, November 29, 2017: Opposition Spokesman on Justice, Senator Donna Scott-Mottley supports the call by the Jamaica Bar Association for the establishment of a new merit based process for the selection of Jamaica’s Next Chief Justice.

 

In order to get the best and most appropriate person for this very important position, we are recommending that the post should be advertised in Jamaica and overseas.

 

In keeping with principle of judicial independence, it is expected that all applicants must meet the basic criteria of integrity, experience, and scholarship.  It is of prime importance not only for the protection of the citizen but also for the retention of public confidence in the Justice System. Consequently, the process for the selection of Jamaica’s Chief Justice ought to be at an arm’s length from both the Executive and Legislative branches of government.

 

Recommended Procedure

The Commonwealth Principles of Accountability and Transparency of the Relationship between the Three Branches of Government, compels the Government of Jamaica to adopt the suggestion that a new procedure for Jamaica’s next Chief Justice should be established immediately.  This can be done without altering the Constitutional requirement that the Governor General shall appoint the Chief Justice upon the advice of the Prime Minister following consultation with Leader of the Opposition.

 

Senator Scott-Mottley points out that in other jurisdictions such as England and Wales, it was found necessary to ensure that the Executive did not possess the sole power to effect the appointment of the Chief Justice. In England and Wales, the appointment of the Lord Chief Justice is made by Her Majesty The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister and the Lord Chancellor. This decision is subject to the recommendation of a special independent panel chaired by the Chairman of the Judicial Appointments Commission and subject to England’s Constitutional Reform Act 2005 as amended by the Crime and Courts Act 2013.  This Act prescribes the Selection Criteria & Procedure of the Judicial Appointments Commission.

 

In addition, (as per Section 10(3) of the Senior Courts Act 1981 of England & Wales) the selection exercise for the Lord Chief Justice is open to all applicants who satisfy the judicial appointment eligibility condition or those who were judges of England’s Supreme Court, Court of Appeal or High Court.

 

It is therefore proposed that the recommendations by the Jamaica Bar Association be immediately undertaken and that the following actions be executed by the Government of Jamaica:

  1. The Government of Jamaica should advertise the post of Chief Justice of Jamaica.
  2. The Government of Jamaica establish an Independent Judicial Appointments Commission  to vet and make recommendations of three applicants for consideration to be appointed to the office of Chief Justice;
  3. That the vacancy for Chief Justice be advertised to the public for the submission of applications to the relevant body by January 15, 2018.
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Dr.Peter Phillips, Press Releases

Kingston, Jamaica, November 30, 2017: Revelations of gross misuse of public funds and breaches of government procurement guidelines at yesterday’s meeting of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee of House of Representatives (PAAC) raise serious and profound issues of poor accountability and probity within the government, which the Prime Minister must immediately address.


In a statement this afternoon, the Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips, said in light of the serious nature of these issues, the Prime Minister must urgently call for a forensic audit of the administration and payments made by the National Security Ministry under the $426.9m contract with O’Brien’s Car Sales and Rental and account to the country for the $213 million which was reported to have already been paid to the company as a deposit for the provision of 200 used vehicles for the Jamaica Constabulary Force.


The Opposition Leader is also seeking the intervention of the Contractor General and the Auditor General in light of what appears to be clear breaches of the government procurement guidelines, the repeated failure of the Minister of National Security to answer questions put to him in Parliament and his gross dereliction of his duties as a Minister. This has led to failed policies which are causing the police to face an increase in violent crime and murder without adequate resources to address it.

The Opposition Leader said the Prime Minister should immediately relieve the Minister of his duties, if the country is to have any confidence in the government’s determination and ability to fight crime.

 Dr. Phillips said Minister Montague cannot escape culpability, as the used car decision was his personal initiative and at the time of announcement was aimed at providing the JCF with a ratio of four pre-owned vehicles to one new vehicle. “The country has now paid out $213 million to a contractor and yet has only thirty (30) used Toyota Axio cars, which do not meet JCF specifications, to show for it. Where has the money gone?” The Opposition Leader queries.


Dr. Phillips said it is not acceptable for the Ministry of Finance to absorb additional costs and break its own procurement guidelines and the terms of the supply contract by providing waivers for General Consumption Tax (GCT), Special Consumption Tax (SCT) as well as for shipping and customs clearance delays charges, which were to be borne by the supplier.

It is clear that this contract has gone sour and it appears that the contractor does not have the ability to deliver. It is the taxpayers of Jamaica who will get the bitter end of the stick as millions of taxpayers’ dollars have not been accounted for and the police are without cars while innocent Jamaicans are shot and killed on the streets and in their homes at the rate of more than one every four hours. The Opposition is not going to stand for this.

Dr. Phillips said the contract must be immediately terminated and the government use the emergency procurement procedures to get a reputable supplier to provide the much-needed vehicles to improve police mobility.

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Angela Brown Burke, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 30, 2017: The People’s National Party (PNP) welcomes the announcement by the Minister of Local Government, the Hon. Desmond McKenzie to rename the present infirmaries as adult residential care facilities. There has been general agreement by all local government advocates that this is an appropriate development. We note that the Minister has indicated the Government’s approval of amendments to the Poor Relief Act to abolish the Board of Supervision, and transfer those functions to the Ministry of Local Government. 

 

We remind the Minister that a central role of local authorities continues to be that of protecting the poor and vulnerable; that the municipal corporations are still the institutions best placed to do so, given their experience and expertise developed over the years.

 

The PNP will be monitoring this exercise and paying keen attention to the allocation of resources and physical improvement of these facilities, especially since we are convinced that a name change is not sufficient to provide the level of care required to residents in these facilities. 

 

The major issue will remain one of financial and other resources to provide an appropriate level of care. Whether these institutions are under the direct supervision of the Ministry or the local authority, there is no doubt that the Government of Jamaica must provide an effective social safety net to cushion the negative impact of the anaemiceconomic growth of the Jamaican economy. 

 

The PNP calls on all Mayors and Councillors as well as civil society to help monitor the standard of care, physical environment, and programmes of reintegration, which will be provided by these residential care facilities. 

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Fitz Jackson, Press Releases

Kingston, Jamaica, November 29, 2017:  People’s National Party chairman, Fitz Jackson is off the island until December 9, attending a high level meeting of experts, scholars and political representatives in the People’s Republic of China.

Mr. Jackson was invited by the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China to participate in the talks with a view to explore how best to build communities of a shared, beautiful and equitable future for mankind. The discussions will posit solutions to the various challenges facing human societies.

Mr. Jackson returns to the island December 9.

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Michael Stewart, Press Releases

Deputy Shadow Minister of Education, Michael Stewart supports the islands’ teachers in their call on the Government for an increase in their salaries.

The teachers of Jamaica have endured five years of wage restraint and their disposable income is at its lowest. Many of the islands’ teachers are struggling and are barely surviving.

“The Government made promises to increase the salaries of the teachers and other public sector workers during the lead up to the 2016 General elections and I humbly request that this commitment be honoured.” Mr. Stewart said.

With end of year examinations due to begin next week, there is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty prevailing in the Education System.

“I therefore ask the Government to heed the teachers’ call and return to the bargaining table, in order to prevent any disruption in the Education System.”

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Fitz Jackson, Press Releases

Kingston, Jamaica, November 27, 2017: People’s National Party (PNP) Shadow Minister of National Security Fitz Jackson says, the so-called crime initiatives announced by the Prime Minister and his Minister of National Security at yesterday’s JLP conference are a combination of old, stale, tried and failed policies, being resurrected after fifty years in the tomb.

The proposal for mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years for gun crimes was already largely implemented in 2010 among the so-called “Crime Bills” of that year.  That measure has failed to stem the tide, and the rate of gun-related murders has spiraled out of control in 2016-2017.

As regards the denial of bail, this is another rehash of a failed measure that was attempted in the “Crime Bills” 2010. Those provisions were struck down by the Court as an unconstitutional usurpation of the presumption of innocence that is well-established in Jamaican jurisprudence.  Mr. Jackson says the Party’s Parliamentary group is serving notice that they will not agree to legislation with provisions which have already been tried and rejected by the society.

For the government to return with the same proposal seven years later, shows the total bankruptcy of ideas in the JLP administration under Andrew Holness.

The Shadow Minister has called on the government to have a genuine national consultation on crime and devise a workable plan to facilitate efficient crime fighting by a police force which is well resourced, well managed and protected from political interference other than general policy direction.

It has taken the Holness administration over six months to respond to the party’s request to replenish the Legal Defence Fund for the police so that officers who are charged for offences in the course of their duties, so they do not have to worry about finding huge legal fees.

The party is happy that the Prime Minister has finally come to his senses on this one issue, by announcing that a provision will be made in the upcoming Supplementary Estimates.

The Shadow Minister once again calls on the government to ensure proper checks and balances over INDECOM’s investigative and prosecutorial powers, by implementing the Joint Select Committee’s recommendations to amend the INDECOM Act by establishing a non-executive Board of Commissioners with governance oversight over the executive management of that body. The Party notes that this beneficial structure has been retained by the Government in the recently-enacted Integrity Commission Bill, and the PNP again calls for its adoption in relation to INDECOM. The Prime Minister cannot just wring his hands and complain about INDECOM’s over-reach without taking the necessary steps to prevent it.

Mr. Jackson said both the Prime Minister and the Security Minister yesterday did nothing to enhance the security environment in Jamaica or the confidence of the Jamaican people. It is clear that the government has no clue as to how to effectively deal with the sharp increase in murders and shootings which has now become a violence contagion particularly in western parishes and Clarendon. The government must provide workable solutions to halt the national fright which is at large islandwide, especially because they used the crime issue as a major plank of their election campaign, promising Jamaicans that they would be able to sleep with their windows and doors open.

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