A Cocaine “Error,” Much Ado About a Power Cut, Mixed Messages and Contradictions: Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Carnage: Deaths in motor accidents rose to 124 as of April 18, 41 of them motorcyclists. Here curious residents look on in Spanish Town yesterday at what was left of the Nissan Tiida, in which a brother and sister lost their lives a few days ago. (Photo: Rasbert Turner/Gleaner)
Carnage: Deaths in motor accidents rose to 124 as of April 18, 41 of them motorcyclists. Here curious residents look on in Spanish Town yesterday at what was left of the Nissan Tiida, in which a brother and sister lost their lives a few days ago. (Photo: Rasbert Turner/Gleaner)

It’s been a funny sort of week. Not particularly humorous, but some positive developments to report.

JPS boss Kelly Tomblin.

JPS boss Kelly Tomblin.

Obsessed with power: There was a power cut on Sunday evening, which lasted perhaps half an hour for some people, longer for others. It took place across the island; but in some areas (like my mother-in-law’s neighborhood) there was no power cut at all. The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) explained what had happened as soon as they had figured it out. Its CEO Kelly Tomblin appeared on early morning television and explained to the best of her ability. What surprised me was that the media seemed practically obsessed, chewing over the story for at least 24 hours. The Office of Utilities Regulation woke from its semi-slumber and demanded a report, which JPS will no doubt provide. End of story…one would think.

An estimated J$1 billion worth of cocaine was seized in Belmont, Westmoreland after a boat chase this week. But there are questions to be answered.

An estimated J$1 billion worth of cocaine was seized in Belmont, Westmoreland after a boat chase this week. But there are questions to be answered.

Proper communication is key: The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) seems to have had issues with communications for quite some time. I recall years back when the Constabulary Communication Network (CCN) came into being – in 1999. It was headed by Senior Superintendent James Forbes. He was a pretty reliable source of information, and also a policeman. There were some slip-ups, but SSP Forbes was a good spokesperson – rather a “smooth talker,” hosting a television slot which gave dramatic replays of murders. In January 2014 the CCN was “rebranded” as the Corporate Communications Unit, headed by a civilian; it has various “sub-units.” In that same year, sadly, SSP Forbes fell from grace. Now, radio journalist Cliff Hughes (and others) are very concerned at the contradictory reports coming from the JCF related to a huge cocaine bust (600 kilograms!) in Westmoreland – in particular in connection with the arrest and subsequent release of four men. The JCF appears to be confused. Too many sub-units?  Was the first report really a “serious error,” Commissioner Williams? If J$1 billion worth of cocaine arrived on our island, did you not jump in a helicopter to see what was going on? And, please fix your communications strategy!

Questions remain, and I think this incident has been damaging. I would love National Security Minister Robert Montague to make a clear statement on this matter.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Winston De La Haye.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Winston De La Haye.

More mixed messages? Now the Ministry of Health and the National Family Planning Board (NFPB) seem to be saying two different things regarding the Zika Virus and pregnancy. Perhaps Dr. Winston De La Haye (Chief Medical Officer) is erring on the side of caution, but he still suggests that women should delay pregnancy and not have unprotected sex. But hold on! Outgoing chair of the NFPB Dr. Sandra Knight says Jamaican women are not taking warnings seriously, but then goes on to suggest that to tell women not to get pregnant at the moment “wouldn’t be the best advice.” Who is right? We have six confirmed cases of the Zika Virus in Jamaica so far, but since only one in four people who contract it actually have symptoms (and would therefore not get tested) how do we know how many cases there indeed might be? Be that as it may, one is left with the impression that Jamaicans are not taking Zika Virus seriously because they are not seeing/feeling it; and we may just have to wait and see in another nine months whether it is in fact a problem. By which time it will be too late.

Opposition Finance Spokesman Peter Phillips' general tone is one of irritation and frustration. (Photo: Irie FM)

Opposition Finance Spokesman Peter Phillips’ general tone is one of irritation, these days. (Photo: Irie FM)

Keeping the tax promise will be a “totally unwarranted shock to the country’s finances,” said Opposition Finance Spokesperson Peter Phillips at a press briefing yesterday, with his customary air of frustration. The Jamaica Labour Party administration needs to speak clearly to the country, he said: “Man up and talk!” Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller added that the JLP is simply planning a continuation of her party’s policies – subsequently noting that the JLP has “no clear plan.” I see! Ms. Simpson Miller added that she would like to see less talk and more work on the ground on the part of the government. “The JLP cannot be trusted,” she said, because they have made promises “they have no intention of keeping.” The former Finance Minister also believes the commitments will not be met, and is clearly annoyed at the unrealistic” expectations of the electorate, who were taken in. He forecasts additional taxation.

Confidence soars: Notwithstanding Mr. Phillips’ comments, Pollster Don Anderson says business and consumer confidence is at a 15-year high. What are the factors behind it, I wonder? Simply a change of government? Blind optimism?

More onions: The oft-neglected agriculture sector is reporting success with onions, thanks to an import substitution program initiated last year.

Is “bad gas” here again? Energy Minister Dr. Andrew Wheatley is expecting a final report from the Petroleum Trade Reform committee this week; the interim report didn’t tell us much. There have been hundreds of official complaints from the public, and recently a couple of media reports suggest bad gas is back.

No more public peeing? Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie has reminded new municipal police graduates that urinating in public is an offense. He wants us citizens to “make up our faces” at men who do this. He says women do it too! That I have never seen…but men have stood and peed into the hedge at the side of our house a few times. Ugh.

rdTopLaurel_L_no_trademarks

I often express concern about the state of Jamaica’s tourism. However, we must be doing something right. TripAdvisor – about the only travel website I seriously follow – has named Jamaica the third best island in the world, according to visitor reviews, after Maui in Hawaii and Santorini in Greece! Last year, Jamaica was not in their Top Ten Islands list at all. Providenciales in Turks and Caicos came fourth, followed by Bali, Majorca, Mauritius, Phuket, Bora Bora and Fernando de Noronha in Brazil. Read more: https://www.tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice-Islands

The Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index places Jamaica at an impressive 10th in the index of 180 countries. This is a slip downwards of one place, but still great compared to the rest of the Caribbean. Costa Rica leapt into 6th place, but generally the Americas fared very poorly – and globally, RSF says “Leaders are paranoid about journalists.” So, we are fortunate. You can find the global rankings here: https://rsf.org/en/ranking_table

Kudos and thank you…

  • To the World Is Our Neighbourhood, a diaspora organization and to Ms. Marva Haye, a former employee of the Savannah-la-Mar Hospital now living in the United States. The organization donated a large amount of new equipment to the Hospital.
Toni-Ann Williams

Toni-Ann Williams (Photo: Matthias Schrader/AP)

  • Congratulations too to two high-achievers! Firstly, 20-year-old Toni-Ann Williams is the first gymnast representing Jamaica to qualify for the Olympic Games. She is a sophomore at the University of California-Berkeley and is actually U.S.-born of Jamaican parents. I do hope that gymnastics will be developed more at home in Jamaica; perhaps Toni-Ann will be the inspiration. Good luck to her!
Chef Andre Fowles is a seriously focused young man. (Photo: Twitter)

Chef André Fowles is a seriously focused young man. (Photo: Twitter)

  • The second achiever is chef André Fowles, who is the first Jamaican-born and the youngest ever chef to compete in the popular “Chopped” show on Food Network Television. He already won in February, won tonight’s competition and will compete in the finals to be Chopped Champion on April 26. Fingers and toes are crossed!
  • Dadre-Ann Graham, sales representative at GraceKennedy, receives the exhibitor award for the Best Environmentally Friendly Exhibit/Product from Metry Seaga, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association, during Expo Jamaica 2016. (Photo: Norman Grindley/Gleaner)

    Dadre-Ann Graham, sales representative at GraceKennedy, receives the award for the Best Environmentally Friendly Exhibit/Product from Metry Seaga, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association, at Expo Jamaica 2016. (Photo: Norman Grindley/Gleaner)

  • GraceKennedy won the award for Most Environmentally Friendly Booth/Product at Jamaica Expo last weekend (which apparently went well). I hope they carry this commitment through all the work they do, on an everyday basis.
Therese Turner-Jones is the new Caribbean Regional Head of the IDB. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

Therese Turner-Jones is the new Caribbean Regional Head of the IDB. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

  • Congratulations to Therese Turner-Jones, the Bahamian national who has been serving as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Country Representative for Jamaica. Ms. Turner-Jones became the first Caribbean woman and the second Caribbean person to become General Manager of the IDB’s Caribbean Country Department. She will remain in Jamaica, rather than moving to Washington.

Tragic stories abound again as we look back over the past few days. A much-loved local businessman, Trevor Meikle, was shot dead during that power cut – the electronic gate apparently did not work, and a robbery was in progress at the house. How small circumstances can change one’s life! Last night, a young man reportedly with mental health issues seized an M-16 rifle from a policeman outside Olympic Gardens Police Station, jumped into a minibus and was allegedly shot dead by the police. A pregnant woman was shot dead. A young policeman got into an argument at a party, pulled his firearm and was shot dead by a licensed firearm holder. We cannot and must not ignore these stories, or sweep them under the carpet.  These are Jamaican lives, and the deaths of all these Jamaicans affect so many others. There are ripple effects. My condolences to all the families.

Junior Bartley, 44, Matilda’s Corner, Kingston

Odane Bennett, 23, Olympic Gardens, Kingston (allegedly killed by police)

Tanisha Ford, 26, Portmore, St. Catherine

Shawn Baccas, 37, Old Harbour Road, St. Catherine

Derwin Prince, 58, Old Harbour Road, St. Catherine

Anthony Rose, 37,Old Harbour Road, St. Catherine

Andre Carter, 29, Board Villa/Ebony Park, Clarendon

Kamala “Kayon” Hylton, 29, Long Lane, Hanover (eight months pregnant)

Unidentified man, Kerr Crescent, Montego Bay, St. James

Marion Brissett, 64, Bay Road, Little London, Westmoreland

Constable Shane Francis, 30, White River/Ocho Rios, St. Ann

Kevin Barriffe, Galina, St. Mary

Trevor Meikle, 76,  Ingleside/Mandeville, Manchester

Maurice Campbell, 41, Santa Cruz, St. Elizabeth

Media reports suggest that Constable Shane Francis, who was shot dead at a party in Ocho Rios, was implicated in other shooting incidents that resulted in the deaths of a colleague and of a civilian. (Photo: Loop Jamaica)

Media reports suggest that Constable Shane Francis, who was shot dead at a party in Ocho Rios, was implicated in other shooting incidents that resulted in the deaths of a colleague and of a civilian. (Photo: Loop Jamaica)

Firefighter Kevin Bariffe was stabbed to death in St. Mary yesterday, allegedly during a dispute over the death of Constable Shane Francis, who was reportedly a friend of his. (Photo: Loop Jamaica)

Firefighter Kevin Bariffe was stabbed to death in St. Mary yesterday, allegedly during a dispute over the death of Constable Shane Francis, who was reportedly a friend of his. (Photo: Loop Jamaica)

A well-known and much loved local businessman, Trevor Meikle, was shot dead during a robbery as he returned from the airport with his wife and daughter. He is reportedly a relative of former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

A well-known and much loved local businessman, Trevor Meikle, was shot dead during a robbery as he returned from the airport with his wife and daughter. He is reportedly a relative of former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

 

Tanesha Ford, 26, was shot and killed in Portmore this week. She was visiting from Queens, New York. (Photo: Loop Jamaica)

Tanesha Ford, 26, was shot and killed in Portmore this week. She was visiting from Queens, New York. (Photo: Loop Jamaica)

Jamaica on Sunday, April 3, 2016: A Promise That Cannot Be Broken, A Tidal Wave Hits, and Carnival Cricketing Joy

A happy Jamaica Carnival reveler. (Photo: Twitter)
A happy Jamaica Carnival reveler. (Photo: Twitter)

The long Easter weekend passed, leaving in its wake a slew of car crashes and (very sadly) murders. We had a minor earth tremor (did you feel it? I didn’t) fourteen kilometers below Clarendon. We had no rain. The well-heeled went to parties costing the equivalent of US$50 upwards, and posted pictures of themselves on Facebook. Others gave the thumbs up to the new north-south highway, despite photos posted on Twitter showing long lines at the toll booths. We were so happy to stay home in peaceful uptown Kingston. Of course, since Carnival is on with its usual vigor, it is not so quiet this weekend.

Finance Minister Audley-Shaw is - to use a cricketing term today - batting on a sticky wicket. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

Finance Minister Audley-Shaw is – to use a cricketing term today – batting on a sticky wicket. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

“That promise is going to be kept”: So says Finance Minister Audley Shaw. But – oh, dear. Things have gone somewhat awry with the pre-election promise made by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) that Jamaicans earning J$1.5 million and under per annum would receive up to J$18,000 more in their pockets, as of April (which is actually – well, this week). Comments made at a Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) meeting by Shaw, just before the Government went into a three-day retreat at Jamaica House last week, threw the media into a bit of a tizzy. Shaw told the PSOJ that funds in the Energy Stablization Fund (ESF) – hedging on the price of oil – which the new Government had planned to use for the tax break implementation were simply not available, after all. Most of it had gone into the Consolidated Fund to be used for another purpose (what purpose?). Phillips says the ESF actually owes money to the Consolidated Fund. Yikes! So, the money had not been set aside (in a transparent way, as former Finance Minister Peter Phillips emphasized at the time).

Opposition Finance Spokesman Peter Phillips.

Opposition Finance Spokesman Peter Phillips.

This is serious. The promise was ostensibly one of the main reasons why many Jamaicans voted for the JLP in February. There seems to be some obfuscation on the matter – on both sides. Peter Phillips said the JLP knew all along that the source of funds was not available – and that as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Shaw himself really ought to have known. A good point, and this has been backed up by Hansard (Parliamentary records) of September 29, 2015 – in which Phillips told the Committee: “The source of funding for the energy stabilisation and energy efficiency enhancement fund is the new fuel tax that has been imposed since April 2015. In the meantime, while the legislative amendments are being undertaken, a sub-account of the Consolidated Fund has been established to receive the proceeds of the tax.” Those legislative changes were not completed before the February election.

Oh dear. Oh dear! Our brand new government is going to have to find the money from somewhere. Moral of the story: Don’t make election promises you can’t keep.

petro-caribe

Shaw also commented on the PetroCaribe Development Fund, which he says is “now being called upon to appropriate US$110 million annually for servicing of the loan.” If anyone needs funds for any nice new projects, he said, the funds from this source are “not there any more.” They might have to change name to PetroCaribe Debt Servicing Fund, said Shaw. So, the question is: Where is the money going to come from for the tax break?

A head office in Kingston: The China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) – the state-owned parent company of our ubiquitous China Harbour Engineering Company – announced recently that it will open its regional head office in Kingston. It also had lovely things to say about the new Prime Minister. As has been pointed out a number of times by former Contractor General Greg Christie (and others), five years ago the World Bank announced the debarment of CCCC, and all its subsidiaries, for fraudulent practices under Phase 1 of the Philippines National Roads Improvement and Management Project. CCCC is ineligible to engage in any road and bridge projects financed by the World Bank Group until January 12, 2017.

Sweeping away crime and corruption…

Sweeping away crime and corruption…

High drama: Seven people, including a policeman, were among 19 people arrested during a series of police raids across the island on March 29 and 30. The operation was carried out with the help of “international partners” – taking a wild guess, the Americans. This must have been part of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Operation Tidal Wave (launched on March 17), which includes zero tolerance for petty crimes, community policing,  neighborhood watch meetings, check points, closer monitoring of entertainment centers, agriculture (60 farm watches have been set up to guard against theft) and dear old organized crime. Oh, and most importantly of all – cracking down on the never-ending lotto scam, which has taken such a toll at home and abroad. That’s a lot of things rolled into one.

A car crash on Spanish Town Road in Kingston earlier this year, in which three people were killed. The police said speeding was the cause of the accident. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

A car crash on Spanish Town Road in Kingston in February, in which three people were killed. The police said speeding was the cause. That is what reports that “the driver lost control” mean. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

Nightmare on the roads: What on earth is happening on our roads? The National Road Safety Council is tearing its collective hair out. Already over 100 Jamaicans have died on our roads, roughly a third of them motorcyclists or their passengers. Back in 1993 there were 400 deaths; but then, the numbers went down to 260 in 2012. However, this was not a trend, it seems, as the numbers are way up again. It’s hard to determine any pattern. What are the factors involved? Speeding is, obviously. However, I just sense the Traffic Police are not on top of their game; or am I being unfair? One sees the wildest driving on the roads, but they get away with it 99 per cent of the time. Trying to persuade people to drive safely has proved pretty ineffective. Enforcement of the law is needed, as well as proper education and testing of motorcyclists. Let’s pass that legislation on distracted driving, too.

Sugar on life support: With the Long Pond Sugar Factory now closed by its operators, Everglades Farms, Agriculture Minister Karl Samuda has a tricky situation on his hands. Farmers are trucking their crops elsewhere for processing. I agree with the PSOJ’s Dennis Chung: Put Long Pond into liquidation and start insolvency proceedings. It seems the Chinese Pan Caribbean Sugar Company could not manage the Monymusk Sugar Factory and will be relinquishing ownership as of next year. Pan Caribbean is immediately handing over to independent farmers (some of whom are asking why they can’t process their own crops) and the Government is to temporarily take over the factory that it divested a few years ago. At least, one hopes it will only be a temporary arrangement. What next for sugar? The future looks uncertain and many jobs are at stake, which is why the Government is trying to keep the industry on life support. Pull the plug, I would suggest, and start creating sustainable “green” jobs elsewhere.

Revered Merrick "Al" Miller, pastor of the Fellowship Tabernacle Church, is charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice. His trial has been postponed on numerous occasions. (Photo: Jamaica Gleaner)

Revered Merrick “Al” Miller, pastor of the Fellowship Tabernacle Church, is charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice. His trial has been postponed on numerous occasions. (Photo: Jamaica Gleaner)

Rev. Al’s trial: We have not heard much about the trial of Reverend Al Miller, who was arrested in 2010 while transporting a wanted man (Christopher “Dudus” Coke, in disguise) into Kingston in his car. Now I see he will be back in court on May 4 and a verdict will be handed down on June 14. Was this trial in camera or something? Why do we know so little?

Good move: Minister of Gender Affairs Olivia Babsy Grange has already got Cabinet to approve the re-naming of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs to Gender Affairs (and thus the reinstatement of the Male Desk there). Quick work, and I look forward to hearing details of her other gender-related plans.

CARICOM complaints: Two Jamaicans have filed official complaints at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the Minister’s urging, regarding their alleged ill-treatment at Trinidad’s airport on March 21. Now the Trinidadian Government says the Jamaicans were denied because “they were likely to become a charge on public funds.” How do they figure this out? Is this within CARICOM regulations, freedom of movement etc? I don’t understand. I hope the Ministry can explain, but Trinidad says this was done in accordance with their laws.

PNP leadership – who’s lining up? Although former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has not indicated that she will be stepping down as party leader, there are a few things working against her. Behind the scenes, potential challengers may be positioning themselves. The ambitious Peter Bunting? Maybe. Former Finance Minister Peter Phillips (who lost a challenge against Simpson Miller in 2006)? I’d say not likely; he’s in a difficult position and has lost a whole lot of credibility in some ways, despite his IMF success. Mayor Angela Brown Burke? It’s possible perhaps. Senator Mark Golding, who apparently is not keen on the idea of representational politics. Julian Robinson is highly thought of, but maybe not ready yet. Whoever it is, they need to sort themselves out. “Who want to challenge me, can challenge,” Ms. Simpson Miller told radio talk show host Emily Shields last week. She’s not afraid of a challenge, she added.

“No one asked me”: Sadly, Ms. Simpson Miller made another astonishing statement a few days back. When asked why she had not given any media interviews during her term in office, she actually said that she had not received any requests! Whereupon Television Jamaica (and no doubt other media houses) listed the dates on which they had requested interviews, repeatedly. Words fail me. Meanwhile, her party’s National Executive Council (NEC) holds its first meeting since the election today. Sparks may fly.

CfIryNqUsAE6ipa.jpg-large

Joy, oh joy! The West Indies’ cup overfloweth. I am talking about that peculiar game of cricket, played only by the British Empire’s former colonies in a serious way (and for fun in some other countries). The West Indies’ Men’s T20 Cricket Team, the Women’s T20 Cricket Team and the Under-21 World Cup Team are all world champions, as of today. I am not a cricket fan, personally… but this is terrific news, and gives the Carnival revelers something more to celebrate today!

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange (left), speaks to young footballers at the launch of the Digicel Kickstart Clinic 2016, held today (March 29), at the Whole Life Sports Centre, Devon Road, in Kingston. (Photo: Jamaica Information Service)

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange speaks to young footballers at the launch of the Digicel Kickstart Clinic 2016 on March 29 at the Whole Life Sports Centre in Kingston. (Photo: Jamaica Information Service)

  • I didn’t know Digicel had a regional football coaching program – up and running since 2008. As a major fan of the sport I can only say “cheers”! The top three boys from each of 14 Caribbean and Central American countries will be selected to attend the Digicel Kickstart Academy. Coaches from Manchester City FC and New York FC will be visiting.

e3f79c72-3cd2-4e83-8ef4-8a266ca0bfeb

  • Kudos to the amazing Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL), which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. It has been through trials and tribulations, but has emerged strong and focused. JASL has just produced its April newsletter. Here’s the link: http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/?u=fdc4f7c4d7&id=61f7bcbc78

The crime scene remains depressing. There was another murder/suicide, a personal tragedy, in Manchester: a Jamaica Defence Force soldier and his partner, the principal of a basic school. Very disturbingly, also, a group of residents attacked and killed two men in rural Jamaica, after they found some goats in their car and suspected them of stealing them.  My deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of these Jamaicans, who were killed in the past eight days. It’s just too many.

Edmond Russell, 40, Fourth Street, Kingston

Ryan Boucher, 28, White Street, Rose Town, Kingston (killed by police)

Orville Myers, 34, Little Lane/Central Village, St. Catherine

Donovan Lawrence, 32, St. Catherine

Unidentified man, May Pen, Clarendon

Devon Segree, 46, Montego Bay, St. James

Unidentified man, Charles Gordon Market, Montego Bay, St. James

Gail Anderson, 46, Hope Village/Williamsfield, Manchester

Dennis Bacchas, 54, Grange Hill, Westmoreland

Elijah Miller (“Quench Aid”), 46,Grange Hill, Westmoreland

Jennifer Richards, Logwood Pen District, Savanna-La-Mar, Westmoreland

Dave Campbell, 37, Bensonton/Claremont, St. Ann (mob killing)

Alphanso Perry, 22, Bensonton/Claremont, St. Ann (mob killing)

Roxborough Bramwell, 44, Brown’s Town, St. Ann

Damion Clark, 35,Brown’s Town, St. Ann

Kirk Williams, 31, Smoothland Road, St. Elizabeth

Theos Blake, 30, Lyssons, St. Thomas 

A police raid on a strip club on Ripon Road, Kingston, over the weekend. Part of the "Tidal Wave." (Photo: Loop Jamaica)

A police raid on a strip club on Ripon Road, Kingston, over the weekend. Part of the “Tidal Wave.” (Photo: Loop Jamaica)

Portia in the Balance 2016: Opinion Piece by Joan French

"In the meantime, Portia Lucretia Simpson Miller, Jamaica’s first female Prime Minister, remains loyal to a party whose internal dynamics she has been unable to influence from her position of gender and class isolation, carefully protected from public view." (Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
"In the meantime, Portia Lucretia Simpson Miller, Jamaica’s first female Prime Minister, remains loyal to a party whose internal dynamics she has been unable to influence from her position of gender and class isolation, carefully protected from public view." (Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

I am a little late sharing this, but for those of you who have not yet read it – it’s a provocative read. Now, since the article was written immediately after the elections, the reference to the results in the first paragraph is now dated, as the seat count remained at 32 – 31. However, this is not simply a response to the election results, but a challenging piece on leadership: in particular women’s political leadership, and in particular that of the now Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller. The article was first published in the Stabroek News of Guyana, and subsequently in the Jamaica Observer. 

The author of this article, Joan French, has long been involved in activism for women’s socio-cultural and political progress. She was a Board member of the Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre, a founding member of the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action, Coordinator of the Caribbean Policy Development Centre; 1991-1995, and was involved in discussions leading to the establishment of the Institute of Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies. She has also served as the UNICEF Regional Advisor for Women in the Americas and Caribbean Regional Office, Chief of Gender at UNICEF Headquarters in New York, and UNICEF’s country representative to Burkina Faso, West Africa.

Joan French. (Photo: University of the West Indies)

Joan French. (Photo: University of the West Indies)

March 7, 2016

Portia in the Balance 2016

The Jamaican elections 2016 are now over. The People’s National Party (PNP) is stunned. The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has moved quickly to come to terms with its unexpected victory. The present count is JLP 32, PNP 31. Two magisterial recounts requested by the JLP could only increase their margin if the results change.

The sons and daughters who benefitted from the expansion of secondary and university education to all classes under the PNP governments of Norman Manley and Michael Manley cannot identify anything similar in their generation that would cause them to be wedded to that history, which most of them do not know or do not care about. They have used their expanded opportunities to react to the disrespect shown to their enhanced educational levels by the refusal of the Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, to engage in a debate on the issues, and other displays of arrogance by the PNP in the lead-up to the elections. According to media reports most have voted JLP or abstained. The PNP focus on the Opposition Leader’s big house got no traction: in the Jamaica of today who does not want one too?

Most significantly, however, the JLP filled the vacuum created by the lack of attention to the deepening economic distress caused by adherence to an economic austerity program that saw the PNP passing eleven consecutive International Monetary Fund (IMF) tests. Chanting “Prosperity,” the JLP sailed into power with a promise of tax relief for all persons earning less than J$1.5 million and a doubling of the minimum wage, stating that what was most relevant was passing “the people’s test.”

In the meantime Portia Lucretia Simpson Miller, Jamaica’s first female Prime Minister, remains loyal to a party whose internal dynamics she has been unable to influence from her position of gender and class isolation, carefully protected from public view. She has chosen to make the necessary compromises with male and class power in order to hold the party together and keep her titles as party leader and Prime Minister. She is constrained by male power and class within, and she is battered from without for not living up to the expectations of the educated elite – including the new elite who got there via the educational opportunities to which they have had access because of the PNP. Despite my distress at the situation, my sympathy goes out to Portia for all the indignities she has suffered in attempting what no other woman in the country has yet attempted. However the PNP has gone astray, and Portia with it.

The irony of the situation is that Portia has been left holding the blame for the party’s defeat, while the Minister of Finance who has carved and guided the economic directions that made the electorate vulnerable to wooing by a promise of more money in their pockets, is still regarded on all sides, PNP and JLP, as having performed well. This is despite the disastrous consequences of few or very temporary and marginal jobs, the extreme distress of low-income and no-income parents trying to provide food, uniforms, and books to send children to school, the unacceptable levels of absenteeism as the situation deteriorates and prices rise from devaluation and the “free market” to which price control is anathema, and the complete counter-productivity of all this to the ostensible priority to education. There has been scant attention to social security to ensure that the capacity to support that effort is maintained for the population groups challenged by poverty. Peter Phillips is also the one who seemed to most make an issue out of the “big house” being built by the then Leader of the Opposition, now Prime Minister, Andrew Holness. This point so highlighted by the Minister of Finance gained the PNP no points, and was generally regarded as an irrelevant distraction – but no-one seems to remember that – they are too busy bashing Portia.

Where women’s rights are concerned, the PNP Manifesto and campaign were silent, despite the fact that this portfolio falls under the Office of the Prime Minister, and that efforts had in fact been made: long-awaited legislation on sexual harassment at the workplace had in fact been tabled in Parliament, although the process was not completed. The JLP did better in their Manifesto, committing on paper to the National Policy for Gender Equality, legislation against sexual harassment and all the legislation pending under the PNP including the ratification of the Decent Work Convention – although the inclusion took some hard internal work, and deep commitment is in question. The point, however, is that it can be used to hold them accountable.

The JLP ended up with seven women in Parliament [House of Representatives], the PNP with four.

In the final analysis, no-one wishing to be relevant in the exercise of political power in this historical period can afford to ignore the fact that IMF “solutions” for economies like ours exacerbate poverty and distress in our local populations while pricing more and more goods and services out of reach. Neither can the generation to which Portia belongs ignore the evolution of youth consciousness in response to both the opportunities and challenges of their lived experience. They engage with issues everyday through the tools of the technologically-advanced and communication-conscious world in which they move and have their being. Portia’s refusal to engage in a national debate on the issues left them cold, rejected, angry at being ignored, detached.

Whatever the outcome of the present political moment, Portia Simpson Miller deserves a balanced assessment. In spite of all the challenges – and they have been greater than those faced by any previous Prime Minister – she has remained steadfast in speaking out in the areas in which her confidence has not been undermined by gender and class factors. She has consistently spoken out against violence and abuse of children, ensuring the establishment and continuation, despite the economic pressures, of agencies such as the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), the Child Development Agency (CDA), the PATH program which provides school lunches and free health care for children, the community mental health program, as well as the services provided by the National Insurance Scheme. Her steadfast support for the National Health Fund, instituted by the PNP, has placed critical medication within the reach of those who need them, regardless of income. She has consistently, even if quietly, taken action when poor governance has been brought to her attention, as happened with the Orange Grove/Outameni issue, which involved the multi-million dollar purchase by the National Housing Trust of lands where the Outameni tourist attraction, owned by a local businessman, was situated. She has actively promoted access to housing and land titles for ordinary Jamaicans. There are other examples – not sufficiently apparent in the campaign communications of the PNP.

Portia has NOT asserted with sufficient vigor that defense of the poor for which she was once known. The class-biased and IMF-favored environment and dynamics of the PNP as it exists today are not favorable. This PNP is NOT the PNP of Michael Manley and Beverley Manley. Democratic socialism has disappeared from the agenda. The PNP seems to be more committed than the IMF to the neo-liberal agenda, over-performing on IMF targets.

Portia has shied away from association with the sexual rights agenda, bowing to pressure from within the party.

Portia has allowed herself to be convinced by those who promoted the message that balancing people’s lives could wait until the macro-economy was fixed: The Minister of Finance again. The price of wanting to be first world in IMF terms without paying attention to the terrible impact on the poor and poorly paid has been the affection and support of the people – at least this time around. Portia has not understood or appreciated the qualitative change in the consciousness and modes of engagement of youth. However Portia has been known to “wheel and come again.”

Portia’s failure to assert her own brand of leadership because of her position of isolation as a woman, and one of humble origins, within a party hierarchy and a government comprised primarily of educated males of the middle classes, shows clearly the constraining impact of male dominance. Parity in female representation in our political parties, parliaments and governments would provide better chances for females to exercise more autonomous leadership. Parity would help create a more positive environment for women like Portia Simpson Miller to exert confident leadership rather than becoming hostage to the lack of confidence in her by the educated elite, mainly male and patriarchal. To be sure all women will not agree on everything, and some women are also patriarchal – but creating a critical, capable and committed mass of women in parties and governments can provide a more secure and enabling base for the successful exercise of female power at the top, as well as the orientation of men of goodwill towards recognizing and respecting the rights of women.

As we evaluate the performance of our female Prime Ministers, there is a need to evaluate the constraints they face from male-dominant power structures and influence within their parties, the level of consciousness they have about it, and the strategies they put in place to counter it – if they are committed to transforming it. It is not impossible to make significant advances in this regard. Michelle Bachelet as President of Chile put in place a government with 50% carefully chosen, competent and qualified female Ministers properly oriented to their tasks within a clear political direction – and left office as one of the most popular and appreciated Presidents in the history of the country.

Environmental Sector Suggests Priority Areas for Incoming Prime Minister

The Martha Brae River in Cockpit Country, Trelawny, after a rainy period. October, 2015. (My photo)
The Martha Brae River in Cockpit Country, Trelawny, after a rainy period. October, 2015. (My photo)

Well. Last night there was an almost audible sigh of relief across our island, when the final count for the last constituency was completed and the Jamaica Labour Party was confirmed as winners of the general elections – with the slimmest possible minority. Many column inches and much airspace is now being used with recommendations, suggestions, advice, hopes and wishes for the new administration, to be headed by Prime Minister designate Andrew Holness. He should be sworn in on Thursday, March 3. Here is a release from Jamaica Environment Trust and other environmental groups, summing up their wishes. Please note the very last paragraph, which is of utmost importance.

For Immediate Release

March 1st, 2016
Kingston, Jamaica

We, the undersigned groups, congratulate the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) on their win in Jamaica’s recent national election and offer our support and assistance in achieving the environmental objectives set out in their Manifesto. We would also like to respectfully suggest additional priorities.

Mangrove trees in a lagoon at sunset in the Portland Bight Protected Area of Jamaica. (Photo: Robin Moore)

Mangrove trees in a lagoon at sunset in the Portland Bight Protected Area of Jamaica. (Photo: Robin Moore)

Climate Change
Jamaica is already experiencing the effects of climate change – sea level rise, beach erosion, longer droughts, heavier rainfall. Projections are for much reduced fresh water supplies. Our best protection against these impacts is by the defence and restoration of the natural resilience held in forests, including mangrove forests, protection of rivers and underground water resources.

The Cockpit Country is a precious natural resource that needs our protection from the depredations of bauxite mining, at all costs. I took this photo of an American Kestrel surveying his domain, near the Martha Brae River.

The Cockpit Country is a precious natural resource that needs our protection from the depredations of bauxite mining, at all costs. I took this photo of an American Kestrel surveying his domain, near the Martha Brae River in Trelawny.

Cockpit Country
Declaration of Cockpit Country boundaries are long outstanding. All preparatory work, including extensive public consultation, has long been completed. We urge the new administration to declare boundaries without delay and close the area to mining and prospecting under the Mining Act. We further encourage the protection of Cockpit Country and its Forest Reserves under the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) and Forest Acts to maintain its critical ecosystem services and promote climate resilience.

Planning for Sustainable Development
Currently, many development decisions are made in a planning vacuum, or are in direct violation of planning instruments, such as Development Orders, protected areas zoning plans or Government policy documents. Many policies (beach policy, wetlands policy, seagrass policy, dolphin conservation, cays policy, coastal and ocean zone policy) remain in various stages of drafting after decades. Important pieces of legislation such as the Building Act and supporting Building Code need to be improved and completed. A national spatial plan has been in progress (in fits and starts) since the mid-1990s – this needs to be finished so that development can occur in an integrated planning framework.

The Blue Mountains, recently named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, contain magic. (My photo)

The Blue Mountains, recently named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, contain magic. (My photo)

Protected Areas
Protected Areas, including National Parks, Forest Reserves and Fish Sanctuaries help ensure conservation of Jamaica’s natural resources, which are the basis for development and contribute to the health and welfare of people. As the Protected Areas System Plan (PASMP) has finally been approved, we would like to see a real commitment to ensuring that our protected areas are properly managed, along with an increase in funding levels provided by the GOJ. The Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park and Forest Reserve has recently been inscribed on the World Heritage List and Jamaica must abide by the World Heritage Convention to protect the site. We also encourage every effort to protect the areas identified in the National Ecological Gap Assessment Report (NEGAR). We are particular concerned about the Black River morass, Goat Islands and Hellshire (part of the Portland Bight Protected Area) and the Pedro Bank and Cays.

Sanitation and Public Health
Jamaica faces visible and serious public health impacts from very poor sanitation and waste management, including dangers from disease vectors and threats to life and property from blocked drains. The time has come to improve dump management and eliminate the use of gullies as waste receptacles. All waste disposal sites in Jamaica must apply for environmental permits within six months – the current situation where dumps in Jamaica are operating illegally is unacceptable. Better solid waste management must include waste separation, a significant increase in recycling opportunities, electronic waste and hazardous waste treatment and community composting. There is a particular problem with the handling of waste tyres that must be urgently addressed.

A hilltop view of Riverton dump smoke, taken four years ago. It's a recurring, horrible public health issue that must never be allowed to happen again. (Photo: Matthew Hall/Gleaner)

A hilltop view of Riverton dump smoke, taken four years ago. It’s a recurring, horrible public health issue that must never be allowed to happen again. (Photo: Matthew Hall/Gleaner)

Enforcement of environmental laws
Since the advent of the Natural Resources Conservation Authority Act in 1991, there has been utterly inadequate enforcement of Jamaica’s main environmental law, particularly with regard to government agencies themselves and large investment projects. The GOJ must state its commitment to adherence to environmental laws and ensure that state agencies lead the way in this regard. We are especially concerned about the delegation of the environmental monitoring of the bauxite industry to the Jamaica Bauxite Institute, a situation which has persisted since the mid-1990s.

Finally, the JLP manifesto refers to “adversarial positions with and of the environmental lobby” as undesirable. We agree with this statement and we hope our new government will take the lead in changing the way environmental management is framed as being an obstacle to development. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives every Jamaican the right to “enjoy a healthy and productive environment free from the threat of injury or damage to the ecological heritage.” The GOJ must become a vocal and explicit champion of this right and promote the conservation of Jamaica’s priceless natural and cultural heritage.

 

Signatories:
Groups
Jamaica Conservation & Development Trust
Jamaica Environment Trust
Portland Environmental Protection Association
Windsor Research Centre

Individuals
Peter Espeut
John Fletcher
Catherine Levy
Jan Pauel

Contact:
Diana McCaulay, JET 469-1315
Susan Otuokon, JCDT 363-7002

Diana McCaulay
Chief Executive Officer
Jamaica Environment Trust
123 Constant Spring Road
Kingston 8
Jamaica
T| (876) 960-3693
E| jamentrust@cwjamaica.com
W| http://www.jamentrust.org

Dennis Jones’ “Lexi-con for Jamaica’s Next Election”

The election campaign seems never-ending. In reality, it began last November, with a short break for Christmas. With no debates, the rallies have taken over, with the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party currently descending on Half Way Tree in Kingston. (Photo: Gleaner)
The election campaign seems never-ending. In reality, it began last November, with a short break for Christmas. With no debates, the rallies have taken over, with the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party currently descending on Half Way Tree in Kingston. (Photo: Gleaner)

With general elections now breathing down our necks, and many difficult and disconcerting developments arising, I thought I would “reblog” my friend and fellow blogger Dennis Jones’ witty piece. However, it wasn’t possible, so I have copied and pasted as best I can. If you want to see the many interesting illustrations, I would recommend you visit the link: https://jamaicapoliticaleconomy.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/a-lexi-con-for-jamaicas-next-election/ And do follow this blog for more witty and thoughtful commentary. I hope this article, in any case, lightens things up a bit for you…

It’s just seven days away! I have no horse in the race, meaning that I have no party affiliation. I will go to the polling station, to cast my vote, or not, or spoil my ballot paper, all of which are my rights…I will emerge with ink on my finger, I think…Am I undecided? I don’t know, for sure. But, while I’m laboring through the masochistic task of reading orange and green colored Manifestos, my mind wandered on how our language has been enriched during this brief, but jolly period since the ‘touch’ was made and the ‘announcement’ was heard amongst the blaring trumpets…and vuvuzelas.

****

A is for Anju, the one leaders of the AH-position, decked in Clarks.

B is for Missa Berk, di spin docta of the governing party.

C is for a con. If ever there was a word that caused so much consternation, and confusion, and contortions, it’s this little one.

D is for debates. Well, we might as well take that word out of our vocabulary for a while, as the children did not want to play in the same sandbox, so now they’ve taken their toys away and gone off to sulk in some dark corner. I’ve said before, that Jamaica does not have a culture of mature political discussion. I would be happy to see politicians mud wrestling, and I know that betting on the outcomes would be a major revenue earner for the gaming companies and the ministry of finance.

E is eedyat, which is how many feel they’ve been treated.

F is flattery, something so absent from most proceedings involving our politicians as to make one wonder about their upbringing.

G is gutter politics. Nuff said.

H is for Hardly Sure, who is penciled in to be finance minister if green is the winning colour. It’s also, aptly, for a house…and there I leave it…

I is for IMF

J is for jokes. What else is up the sleeves of the politicians and their surrogates, when it comes to keeping us amused in the next few days? Importantly, it’s also for jobs, or is it jabs, as Jamaicans would pronounce it? 100,000, 200,000, 300,000…any more bids?

K is kiss mi teet, which is a prevailing attitude clearly displayed by many more than a few.

L is laughable, which aptly describes some of the ridiculous gyrations and hole-digging

M is for Mama P, now aka MIA, whether that is ‘missing in action’, ‘Miss InAction’, ‘Me Insult Anju?’, or other variants that can come to mind. A fearless leaders, by her own admission. Sadly, the opposition has sought no permission to exploit this…Just sharing.

N is new voters, who may truly hold the key to many a political prospect

O is opinion, of which no one seems lacking

P is for polls, whether Bill Johnson- or Don Anderson-inspired, or just a random check of those waiting for the 21 bus at Half Way Tree Transportation Centre. It’s also for points, as in (several) plans, which feature much in the JLP Manifesto…

Q is for questions, of which more have been asked than answered, and for which no answer will suffice. Talk about ‘painting the Forth Bridge’!

R is for rallies, what more Jamaicans are drawn to than sitting quietly and hearing politicians rale…

S is for steps…21 of them to “Step Up the Progress”, as PNP has it. Frankly, I think we need a 12-step program for political salvation. But, what do I know?

T is for tax-plan: part of a 10-point program aimed to get your vote for more money. What’s that about vote-buying? Just asking….

U is unnu, especially when it’s ‘those people’ who don’t share your views.

V is victory

W is for Warmington, who shockingly in a year when political bile has been on the increase has barely mustered a column inch with any mustard-flavoured utterances during the campaign season. The people ask “Why the silence?”

X is the mark you must put on the paper, against the symbol of your choice. If you can read, then check that the person’s name is sensible and not something like Donald Chump

Y is young people, who seem critical in setting a tone for future elections, whether they stay away in droves or decide to vote in large numbers.

Z is the sound coming from over 40 percent of voters when you ask if they’re interested in voting…

Integrity Action Movement, UWI LEADS Organize Political Town Hall Meeting: TONIGHT! Open to ALL

I.A.M. is the student arm of National Integrity Action (NIA).
I.A.M. is the student arm of National Integrity Action (NIA).

The UWI LEADS and Integrity Action Movement (I.A.M) for Students, two youth-led organizations on the University of the West Indies (Mona) Campus will host a town hall meeting at the Rex Nettleford Hall on UWI campus this evening (Thursday, February 18) starting at 5:30 pm. At this juncture leaders from four political parties will present their plans to the student population, along with a question and answer section. Senator Mark Golding of the People’s National Party (PNP) was recently added to the list of participants, which will also include Andrew Holness of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), Peter Townsend of the National Democratic Movement (NDM) and Joseph Patterson of the United Independents’ Congress (UIC) of Jamaica.

227233_174628232594369_132413_n-2

Many congratulations to UWI LEADS (about whom I have written before  – they are really living up to their own youthful expression of leadership) and IAM, an on-campus youth arm of the non-governmental organization National Integrity Action (NIA), for organizing this event at extremely short notice. I hope the young people (and older ones who attend – it’s open to all) will ask some tough questions and get some answers from all the participants!

The town hall meeting will be broadcast live on Periscope, but please do come out and support! The event is free and open to the public.

Contact UWILeads on Twitter @theuwileads and follow the hashtags #YouthatPoll2016 and #JaYouthVote2016 tonight!

 

 

National Integrity Action’s Letter to Opposition Leader Andrew Holness (February 14, 2016)

Happier times: Jamaica Labour Party deputy general secretary Ian Murray adjusts the tie of People’s National Party deputy general secretary Julian Robinson before shaking hands during the signing ceremony for the national debates at The Courtleigh Hotel in Kingston on December 2, 2011. (Photo: Michael Gordon/Jamaica Observer)
Happier times: Jamaica Labour Party deputy general secretary Ian Murray adjusts the tie of People’s National Party deputy general secretary Julian Robinson before shaking hands during the signing ceremony for the national debates at The Courtleigh Hotel in Kingston on December 2, 2011. (Photo: Michael Gordon/Jamaica Observer)

Somewhat belatedly, I am sharing the letter written by Executive Director of National Integrity Action Professor Trevor Munroe to Opposition Leader Andrew Holness. Although this letter is dated February 14, and events have moved rather fast since then, the key principles contained therein remain valid and of crucial importance. Transparency, accountability and adherence to the rule of law among our public servants remains a critical component of our democracy (not, I would add, rumors, accusations and lawsuits).

Executive Director of National Integrity Action Professor Trevor Munroe speaks at a recent press briefing on NIA's fourth anniversary. (My photo)

Executive Director of National Integrity Action Professor Trevor Munroe speaks at a recent press briefing on NIA’s fourth anniversary. (My photo)

February 14, 2016

The Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Andrew Holness M.P. Office of the Leader of the Opposition
1 West Kings House Road
Kingston 10

Dear Mr. Holness,

As you are aware, myself, National Integrity Action (NIA) and a number of civil society groups have urged and continue to insist that the debates, organised by the Jamaica Debates Commission and mutually agreed on by the Peoples’ National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), take place in the public interest and in upholding an important facet of Jamaica’s maturing democracy.

Towards this end, NIA has requested the Peoples’ National Party to reconsider its decision not to participate in the debates. We also maintain that legitimate concerns raised by the PNP ought not to be a basis for non-participation and that these concerns ought to be dealt with in the appropriate fora established by relevant Jamaican law, convention and codes.

In the case of public utterances made by you and deemed inappropriate by the PNP, these should be reported to the office of the Political Ombudsman, and if considered necessary, ultimately taken to the courts in accordance with the Agreement and Declaration on Political Conduct signed by yourself, the president of the PNP and other party officials. In matters relating to your assets, and in particular to the construction of your house, this is, in the first instance, a matter for the Integrity Commission established by the Parliament (Integrity of Members) Act.

In the latter instance, that is, matters relating to your assets, allow me to make four observations:

  1. The questions raised by spokespersons of the PNP, made specific as of February 12, 2016, imply allegations, at the minimum, suggesting impropriety and, possibly beyond that, more serious breaches.
  2. The information required in response to these questions would normally be reported in your statutory declarations for 2011, 2012 and 2013, in accordance with the requirements of the Parliament Integrity of Members Act (PIMA). Under this law (section 6) these declarations are “secret and confidential” and, except in specific circumstances, any violation of this provision constitutes an offence punishable by law.
  3. However, the Annual Reports of the Integrity Commission (IC) to Parliament, and thereby to the public lists the names of : a) Parliamentarians whose declarations are “outstanding” (i.e. not been filed by the due date); b) Parliamentarians who fail to reply to correspondence from the Commission, failed to submit adequate financial statements or are required to attend by the Commission, for the purpose of conducting an enquiry into their declarations; c) Parliamentarians whose names were sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) or the Commissioner of Police, along with reports detailing dissatisfaction with the statutory declaration. The PIMA also states that “the Commission shall report any act of corruption to the Parliamentary Leaders and the Director of Public Prosecutions” (section 12,4).
  4. However, the relevant annual reports of the Integrity Commission for 2011, 2012 and 2013 have been filed by the Commission in fulfillment of its functions with the Prime Minister who, under the law, “shall cause a copy of the reports to be laid on the table of the House of Representatives and of the Senate”. These reports have not yet been sent to Parliament prior to Parliament being dissolved. According to the Gleaner of January 27, 2016, subsequently confirmed by the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), these Reports are “stuck in the OPM” due to a failure of administration. As a result, neither the Parliament, the media and by extension the public have been able to exercise their right to review these reports.

Taking into account all the circumstances, in particular that the following information should by now have been in the public domain had the above reports been published on schedule, I am asking that you indicate:

a) Whether any of your statutory declarations for 2011, 2012 or 2013 are “outstanding” (i.e. not yet filed)?

b) Whether you failed to reply to subsequent queries by the IC in relation to any of the above declarations, or have been required to attend by the IC for an enquiry into any of the above submitted statutory declarations?

c) Whether your name has been submitted by the IC to the DPP or the Commissioner of Police in relation to any of the above?

I await your positive response to these questions in the interest of upholding the principles of transparency and accountability.

You will understand, I am sure, that I am releasing this letter as the matters herein are of public interest.

All the very best,

Professor Trevor Munroe C.D
Executive Director, National Integrity Action