The PNP can no longer make ‘youthful exuberance’ excuses for Paulwell — Holness

Kingston, Jamaica — Opposition Leader Andrew Holness responding to Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell’s controversial handling of the bidding process for a 381 MW plant, has written to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller imploring her to act immediately on her return from the ACS Summit in Mexico.

“Just yesterday the Prime Minister ended her [Budget] presentation calling for action, accountability and efficiency – let us see if she will ‘walk the talk’,” Holness said in a statement from the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Wednesday afternoon.?

“We all need and want lower energy costs. No one has wanted or wants the Energy Minister or this project to fail. In this context, perhaps we have as a country, up to now, been willing to give Minister Paulwell some benefit of the doubt in his conduct of this portfolio,” Holness argued?.

He said that the fears held by the Opposition and civil society during the transaction now seemed to be coming to the fore.

“The concerns that have been raised all along, by us, the private sector and civil society, were raised because we feared that if the proper process wasn’t followed, Jamaica might end up with only bad choices.

“The Minister has wasted two-and-a-half years of Jamaican’s time that should have been properly spent in delivering an alternative energy solution. He is failing us as a nation. He is accountable to the people of Jamaica, and we are where we are today for no reason other than his actions, his choices and his decisions.”?

According to Holness the most recent revelation regarding Paulwell’s approach to the concerns raised by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) should be of concern to all Jamaicans.

“How can you as a Cabinet Minister, approach the Contractor General of Jamaica, the person commissioned by Parliament to keep Ministers honest in terms of their procedures and contracts, and ask him to say that his position was an error? Or that it was incorrect. This is beyond excusable -– and certainly not likely to make the IDB feel any better about the process.”?

He added that the matter also needed to be viewed in its wider context.

“This government has from the very start of its term of office sought to undermine the Office of the Contractor General.  They have taken it to Court, they have ignored its requisitions for information, they have ignored its findings and recommendations, and now Minister Paulwell is seeking to twist the Contractor General’s arm to correct problems of his own making.”?

“The People’s National Party can no longer make ‘youthful exuberance’ excuses for Minister Paulwell,” said Holness.

Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson used the expression during the early 1990s to absolve Paulwell in the botched NetServe negotiations, which saw government losing approximately J$180 million through a loan from the Technology Ministry to the IT company.

“The Prime Minister must remove Minister Paulwell from the energy portfolio and from the Cabinet of Jamaica,” Holness insisted Wednesday.

“He has already cost us millions. More than ever at this delicate time of our economic development, we cannot afford his loose approach to announcements and projects nor his disregard for proper governance. Jamaica has neither the time nor the money to afford Minister Paulwell’s management style.”

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