November 26, 2014
In the aftermath of the recent resignation of three additional NHT board members in order to give the Prime Minister a free hand to appoint a new board, the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), are deeply disappointed that the opportunity has been missed to restore public confidence in this critical national institution, by wiping the slate clean and appointing a new NHT Board.
The groups remain extremely concerned over their view that the NHT has erred in its decision to purchase the Outameni property for J$180 million, and the fact that public concerns about this issue continue to distract the nation from focusing on other critical economic and social issues. The groups also fear that governance concerns could negatively affect investor confidence in the wider economic reform being undertaken by the Government.
The JCC, JMA, and the PSOJ are also very disturbed by a most unbelievable statement made in a press conference on Monday by the Chairman of the NHT, Mr. Easton Douglas, when he stated that in “thirty eight years of the operations of the National Housing Trust, on no occasion has the trust ever advised the Minister about the sale or purchase, or any transaction”.
In the event that this statement is true then we have to question the fundamental nature of governance of the NHT from its inception. On the other hand, if this statement is found to be untrue then it is the view of the JCC, JMA, and PSOJ, that this would make untenable the position of Mr. Douglas as Chairman of the NHT.
The private sector groups welcome the revelation that as we had called for, both the Auditor General and the Office of the Contractor General have now started
investigations into the NHT and we anxiously await the outcome of these investigations.
While the nation awaits the reports of these investigations, the JCC, JMA, and the PSOJ call for an immediate and urgent review of the governance structure at the NHT by an appropriate and independent body, and for the recommendations of this review to be implemented as soon as possible. Until then the groups call on the NHT to put on hold any and all further expenditures by the Trust on projects not directly related to its primary mandate of providing affordable housing for its contributors.
Contact: Ms. Kareen Cox, Marketing & Public Relations Manager, PSOJ
Tel: 927-6238 (Ext. 2052); Fax 978-2709