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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.


Dr.Peter Phillips, Press Releases

Kingston, Jamaica, November 22, 2017: The People’s National Party (PNP) is condemning the Prime Minister for misleading the House and the country in saying that it was the PNP which had insisted that registration under National Identity Registration (NIDS) be compulsory. The PNP categorically states that it gave no instruction to Prime Minister Andrew Holness nor his government to include any clause in the very controversial NIDS Bill.

The PNP says, in June, some of its members attended one meeting led by the Prime Minister on the national identification project and while there was wide-ranging discussions on all sides, the members went specifically to hear the government’s proposals and learn about what was to be included in the proposed bill.

At that time, the PNP did not have a settled position on any of the issues and, therefore, could not have put forward a position. The Party says any statement to the contrary is a misrepresentation of the facts.

 At that meeting, the Prime Minister agreed to communicate with the members in two weeks regarding the views expressed. This did not take place and the only communication that came about the project was in September when he indicated Government’s intention to take the legislation through all the stages in the Parliament.

“Any reference to any proposal from the PNP is simply a red herring intended to deflect attention from the Government’s intransigence at every stage to put the Bill before a Joint Select Committee  of Parliament.,” PNP president Dr. Peter Phillips said.

The Prime Minister’s comments in Parliament last night were meant to distract from his breaking his solemn word to the Opposition and civil society present in the gallery that the government would not move to consider the 168 Senate amendments until a later date. This was a breach of trust.

The Party remains firm in its resolve that the Bill is of fundamental interest to every single Jamaican citizen and given the implications in the confused way in which it was drafted, it is critical that it is put before a Joint Select Committee for fulsome review and that all stakeholders who wish to participate may have their say.

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister deliberately misled the House when he indicated the amendments from the Senate would be taken at a later date. Indeed, his Minister of Justice indicated that time was needed for members to consider the amendments.

 A few meetings with select groups cannot substitute for proper stakeholder consultation and every citizen having an opportunity to present their views before Parliament on every clause of the Bill, as would have been accommodated by a Joint Select Committee.

Moreover, the actions of the Speaker of the House in preventing the motion put forward by the Opposition to have the Bill withdrawn and referred to a Joint Select Committee represented a denial of the Opposition’s right under the Standing Order of Parliament and continued a pattern of denying the basic democratic principles.

Worst of all the Prime Minister’s betrayal of his commitment not to take the Bill demonstrates that Parliament is abandoning the principles of democracy and threatening the fundamental rights of the Jamaican people to representation in Gordon House through their elected representatives.

 ”The democracy of this nation is at risk when the Prime Minister is in breach of his own commitment and cannot be taken at his word.” Dr. Phillips said.


Dr.Peter Phillips, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 17, 2017: The Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips, M.P., today, thanked the International Monetary Fund’s Managing Director, Mrs. Christine Lagarde for supporting the 2013 agreement signed by the PNP led-government and the Fund. This agreement was the blueprint for Jamaica’s economic reform programme, which laid the foundation for sustained economic growth and job creation.

In her comments at the IMF’s High Level Caribbean Forum yesterday at the Pegasus Hotel, Mrs. Lagarde noted the successful implementation of the standby agreement five years ago and recalled that at the time of the rollout, very few persons thought it would have seen the tremendous level of success it achieved.

During a courtesy call paid by Mrs. Lagarde on the Opposition Leader at his West King’s House Road office, with Shadow Ministers Mark Golding, Peter Bunting, Anthony Hylton and Fenton Ferguson in attendance, Dr. Phillips reiterated his appreciation for the IMF chief’s personal role in securing the 2013 stand-by agreement that enabled Jamaica to see to the reduction in the country’s debt and the decrease in stifling tensions that gripped the nation’s financial structures.

Dr. Phillips told the IMF chief that the people of Jamaica sacrificed much to ensure the success of the programme, but shared concerns about implementation issues in the current agreement in relation to public sector transformation and lagging economic growth. He said the unabated rise in rampant criminality has been a particular drag on the economy and eroding the gains that have been made over the past years.

He said further that the benefits of any growth must be spread widely to include the provision of improved social services and enhanced quality of education for the nation’s children.

Dr. Phillips said, while the nation continues to be an example of fiscal achievement under the IMF interventions, too many of our people are not enjoying the benefits as in most cases their standards of living have fallen. Jamaica must focus on the fundamental structural impediments to growth, which will result in improved standards of living.


Dr.Peter Phillips, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 17, 2017: Leader of the Opposition Dr. Peter Phillips is expressing sadness at the passing of the late chairman of the RJR/Gleaner Group Lester Spaulding.

Jamaica and the media fraternity have lost one of its giants, he was a patriotic Jamaican who always considered a free and fair press to be a part of good governance in the country.

The local and regional media fraternity has lost a pioneer, devoted advocate and consummate friend, Dr. Phillips said.

He said that Mr. Spaulding who was a professional accountant, was a visionary who was particularly instrumental in establishing and modernizing the media landscape in Jamaica and the region.

“He was a giant in the industry and the nation will cherish his legacy of building the RJR into a multi-platform communication entity.”

Dr. Phillips said Mr. Spaulding was central to the merger of the RJR/Gleaner Group and that this vibrant entity, that he led up to the time of his passing, continues to be a leader in the industry, a bastion of credibility that faithfully serves Jamaicans at home and abroad.

 “I’m offering my heartfelt condolences to the immediate family of Mr. Spaulding and by extension the RJR/Gleaner family and the wider media fraternity,”Dr. Phillips said.


Dr.Peter Phillips, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 12, 2017:  The President of the People’s National Party (PNP) and Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips says that every effort must be made to effectively enforce the nation’s anti-corruption laws as the only way to successfully free Jamaica from the death grip of corruption. 

Dr. Phillips was speaking at the Karram Speid Hall, St. Andrew graduation of 434 community leaders and key actors who participated in a training programme mounted jointly by the National Integrity Action (NIA) and Council for Voluntary Social Services (CVSS). The graduates are trained to engage in the national fight against corruption.

Pointing to the fact that the country has fallen 14 places in its ranking in the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index in recent years, Dr. Phillips lamented the apparent disregard by the Andrew Holness led-administration to existing laws and rulings made by anti-corruption bodies such as the Office of the Contractor General (OCG).  

Dr Phillips said there are too many instances where there are reported breaches, certified by the Contractor General, where no action is taken at all. “There are persons in breach of the Parliamentary Integrity of Members Act, but no prosecutions ensue. This is a situation that must be corrected with some urgency because it not only threatens the legitimacy of the political system as people lose confidence in the integrity of their national leaders, but it spreads an even more disturbing phenomenon, which is a general acceptance that corrupt behaviour is normal.”

The Opposition Leader pointed out that corruption has taken over important public services such as with the motor vehicle examiner’s division, law enforcement and other critical agencies of the state. This, he says, helps to destroy the basic fabric of trust which is essential to any progressive society. 

“It is becoming increasingly clear that all efforts for economic and social advancement, and to arrest the spiralling crime rate are being undermined by increasing corruption at all levels of the society,” he lamented.

“The situation is not going to be helped by merely talking about it. We must lead by example and activism. This means starting at the top. It hardly helps when there is no response to reports of rampant corruption from the highest levels,” Dr Phillips argued. 

Dr. Phillips hailed the training programme conducted by the two charity organizations and said the transformative value of this approach can be seen in what has been achieved by the partnership forged by the Church and the NIA in Spanish Town.

In commending the graduates, Dr Phillips said recent successes in August Town show what communities can be mobilised to do to advance their own interests through community action.


Dr.Peter Phillips, Press Releases

KINGSTON, Jamaica, November 11, 2017:  The People’s National Party’s (PNP) President, Dr. Peter Phillips says, the midnight amendments to the National Identification System Bill, which were introduced in a marathon session in the Senate on Friday further underscores the need for the Bill to be sent before a Joint Select Committee where all the contentious issues can be hammered out. 

Dr. Phillips, who had urged the government during the debate in the lower house to send the Bill to a select committee when it was first piloted, says he stands with the Opposition Senators and the many Jamaicans from churches and civic organisations who raised their voices in protection of the rights of the people.

Senator KD. Knight led the Opposition team on insisting that public consultations need to be held prior to any passage and signing-off of the Bill.

Other Opposition Senators were forthright in their stance that the speed and process to the passing of this Bill, which will require every Jamaica to surrender so much personal information, was not in the best interest of Parliamentary democracy, nor the interest of all Jamaicans.

Senator Floyd Morris, who was unable to peruse the amendments presented to the House yesterday morning as he needed the document to be converted to a format that he could access, was insulted by the leader of government business, Senator, the Hon. Kamina Johnston-Smith.

Dr. Phillips says, Senator Johnson-Smith’s response sums up the general disregard that the government has displayed towards the nation’s vulnerable communities.

The need for government to take into account the realities of the disabled is a critical one, Dr Phillips outlined in a meeting he had with the Disabled community in July, while on his Listening Tour. 

“Senator Johnston-Smith needs to step forward and not only apologize, but also to clearly assure Jamaicans with disabilities that they are not second-class citizens in their own country. “

The debate continues Monday.