Current Affairs

Current Affairs



Patterson hits back - Warns JLP against anti-corruption campaign
The Gleaner
March 4, 2002

PRIME MINISTER P.J. Patterson came out fighting on the weekend warning the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) against continuing its allegations of corruption in the People's National Party (PNP) Government.

Mr. Patterson said previous JLP governments had a lot to answer to on the matter of the disappearance of public funds.

He said that when his party took over the Government in 1972, money which had been allocated for the construction of the Resource Road in South Manchester had disappeared just before the election.

This three and half kilometre road was recently constructed at a cost of $10.5 million through funding from the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and the Prime Minister made his comments as he officially opened the new road. He said, however, that the JSIF project was being implemented in communities across Jamaica and was not political.

Mr. Patterson's comments come in the wake of the JLP's announcement last month that it would hold a month-long campaign against what it says is a trail of scandals and political corruption involving Government agencies, among them NetServ, the National Housing Development Corporation (NHDC) and the Titles Office, where operations are now under probe from the Fraud Squad and Revenue authorities. This anti-corruption campaign was expected to be officially launched last night.

Throwing cold water on this campaign, however, Mr. Patterson trumpeted the PNP's achievements, stating that the resurgence of his party in opinion polls was the result of the Government's hard work in implementing projects in housing, education, roads, land and water provision. He said that the record of the Government can withstand the most rigorous examinations and that his Government has nothing to hide since it has always performed its duties with honesty and integrity.

In a televised broadcast on February 26, JLP leader Edward Seaga had said the Opposition would devote the month of March to an islandwide anti-corruption campaign. The JLP leader said the most recent scandal involving the Operation Pride Project administered by the NHDC had erupted even while the scandal on NetServ was still alive.

Operation PRIDE, an initiative of Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, was launched in 1994 and is managed by the NHDC. Its main aim was the provision of houses primarily for low-income Jamaicans but professionals who conducted the review on the initiative found that contracts valued at $3.5 billion are now expected to end up costing nearly $18 billion, a massive overrun of almost $15 billion.

On that issue, the PNP has managed to drum up some support with the Operation PRIDE Provident societies affirming their confidence in Mr. Patterson and Water and Housing Minister, Dr. Karl Bylthe in a statement issued on Saturday.

NetServ began operations in June last year after being granted a $180 million loan from the Government with the understanding that it would create 3,000 jobs in the first year and 10,000 within three years.

However, it failed to meet the targets, employing just 209 persons when it was placed in receivership. In what became known as the NetServ fiasco, the Auditor General was called in for an immediate inspection of the Intech Fund.