Tuesday 29 September, 2020

Julian Robinson hits back at Holness on corruption fight

Julian Robinson

Julian Robinson

General Secretary of the People’s National Party (PNP), Julian Robinson, has hit back at Prime Minister Andrew Holness after he accused members of the PNP of being pretenders in the fight against corruption.

Holness made the claim on Sunday while addressing publicly, for the first time, the corruption scandal that has led to the arrest and charge of former Education Minister, Ruel Reid, his wife Sharen and daughter Sharrele.

Also arrested and charged are Professor Fritz Pinnock, President of the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Councillor for the Brown’s Town Division in North West St Ann, Kim Brown-Lawrence.

Holness, who was addressing a JLP Area Council One meeting at the Girl Guides’ headquarters in St Andrew, said: “This matter, which is a political matter, what the electorate has to now consider and decide is what did this Government do when they were faced with allegations of corruption versus what the pretenders did during their time (in office).”

But in a statement, Robinson said past PNP administrations were not pretenders when they ensured that anti-corruption agencies, such as the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA), the National Integrity Commission and the Financial Investigations Division (FID), were established along with the requisite legislation.

Robinson said the National Integrity Commission Act had its genesis in the Integrity (Parliamentary Members) Act and the Corruption Prevention Act of 2000, which were both passed by PNP administrations, and the Contractor General’s Act that was passed by the JLP in 1986.

He said the Financial Investigations Division of the Ministry of Finance was established in 2002 and MOCA in August 2014, both by PNP governments.

He also said it was the last PNP government that passed amendments to the Representation of the People Act, which the Governor General signed into law on February 15, 2016, to facilitate campaign finance reform.

“For the prime minister to claim these actions as proof of the JLP’s anti-corruption stance and label the PNP as pretenders, speak volumes about his inability to face the facts and present a honest plan to the Jamaican people who are now very concerned about the integrity of political leadership,” Robinson stated.

The PNP general secretary accused the prime minister of attempting to score political points, and of using the latest developments in the Ruel Reid/CMU corruption scandal to “extricate himself from the thickening web of maladministration and corruption that has engulfed his Administration.”

Prime Minister and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader, Andrew Holness, addressing labourites at a party meeting last Sunday. (Photo: Andrew Holness Facebook)

Added Robinson: “The recent statement by the prime minister is most alarming for its failure to recognise the degrading of the principles of good governance that has overtaken his administration on account of the multiple scandals, beginning with the $600 million de-bushing programme, which the (then) Office of the Contractor General (OCG) had labelled a ‘corruption enabling mechanism’, and documented that several Cabinet ministers were less than candid in their depositions,” Robinson said.

He further argued that Holness had also failed to acknowledge the scandals and wasteful spending at Petrojam, the Petroleum Corporation Jamaica, National Energy Solutions (NESoL), CMU and the National Education Trust.

“The situation at the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) has been papered over, with no one being sanctioned, and there is still not yet a full explanation of the Rooms on the Beach sale and the giving away of taxpayers’ money, which was cited in another contractor general’s report as showing evidence of possible ministerial interference,” Robinson added.

“While the prime minister is busy trying to whitewash the role of his Administration in the cancer of corruption, he needs to tell the public at what point did he discover that his former Education Minister, Ruel Reid, was under criminal investigation, and what did he do at that time; and can the prime minister say if he only found out about Reid’s investigation when the matter was raised by the leader of the Opposition at a press conference,” Robinson continued.

He said the prime minister needs to be reminded of the Government’s efforts to stop the parliamentary Opposition from chairing committees, a measure that had been put in place as an anti-corruption safeguard. Of signal reference, Robinson pointed to the Government’s ‘continuing delay’ in naming the oversight committee for the National Integrity Commission, this after two years.

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