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'It's our job to expose corruption,' says Bunting

BY GARFIELD MYERS
Editor-at-large
South/Central Bureau

Monday, May 27, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Manchester Central Member of Parliament Peter Bunting says he sometimes feels “almost apologetic” having to constantly “hammer away” in Parliament at evidence of corrupt practices by the Andrew Holness-led Administration.

Addressing Comrades at a divisional meeting in Mandeville recently, Bunting said Jamaicans were being worn down by the several reports of corruption and scandal.

These include allegations of financial wrongdoing and nepotism at the oil refinery Petrojam, which eventually led to the resignation of then Energy Minister Andrew Wheatley; and reports of misconduct at the Ministry of Education, which triggered the fall of Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid.

Jamaicans, he said, shouldn't make the mistake of blaming the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) for exposing corruption in Government.

“We have seen where the country is suffering from what I would call Petrojam fatigue. Too much of it,” said Bunting.

“I almost feel apologetic to go back to Parliament, go back to the Public Accounts Committee, and keep hammering away, not at the same thing, but at more and more examples of corruption,” he said.

Bunting, a former national security minister and an investment banker, complained that “nobody is being held accountable for corruption”.

He spoke of a recent case of “dead men telling no tales” when the finger was pointed at a deceased former Jamaica Labour Party councillor as the man who had given instructions to divert a Petrojam donation from one citizens' association to another.

To make matters worse, said Bunting, the “auditor general says she can't find any evidence that either citizens' associations, one or two, actually exist”.

Jamaicans, he said, shouldn't blame Opposition members of parliament for their persistence in bringing the allegations of corruption before Parliament and to the attention of the country.

“That is our job, that is our responsibility. If we don't do it, we would be dropping our hands on the work, and we not doing that. (Those who are) tired of hearing about Petrojam, corruption every week, don't blame the Opposition, blame those who were tiefing. Blame those who were corrupt; blame those who were promoting their friend and company, that's who you must blame, not the Opposition...,” said Bunting.

He rejected suggestions that questioning of the Government's sale of the Ocho Rios property Rooms on the Beach was uncalled for and could discourage investment in the Jamaican economy.

“I hear people talking about investors will be discouraged and will pick up their bags and go if there is public scrutiny of investment. Any investor who shies away from transparency and accountability with public funds is not the type of investor we want in this country.

“And I can say that as someone who has built a career in investment banking, a career encouraging investment. I am telling you, anybody who is afraid of accountability, transparency and audit of what happens with taxpayers' money is not the type of investor you want in this country. They have a different agenda...,” he said.

Former Contractor General Dirk Harrison — whose office has been subsumed under the Integrity Commission — alleged in a report published in late April that the sale of Rooms on the Beach at millions of US dollars below the assessed market value amounted to an insult to the Jamaican people.

Harrison also charged that Cabinet Minister Daryl Vaz improperly involved himself in the transaction, thereby undermining the Urban Development Corporation, which had the responsibility to negotiate the sale.

Vaz and the Government vigorously denied the allegations and have insisted that the sale of the property to Puerto Caribe Properties Ltd at the discounted price will prove to be of immense value to the country.


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