BlackFacts Details

PM: PNP killed UK prison offer

In a new revelation, the Holness administration is claiming that the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) offer to help build a prison here was “rejected” by the Portia Simpson Miller-led government in 2016 and not the now-ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

That disclosure and accompanying explanations in a late-evening statement from Holness yesterday were never advanced when Kamina Johnson Smith, the foreign affairs and foreign trade minister, finally gave an update in the Senate on January 13, 2017, six months after opposition member Lambert Brown asked about the status of the offer.

And in his statement last night, Holness said the People’s National Party (PNP) administration, which his JLP booted from office in February 2016, had by then “rejected” the offer, saying there was no advancement on a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) that was reportedly signed.

The statement, however, did not explain why Johnson Smith did not tell the Senate that the offer was rejected before the JLP administration formed government and, given that inherited knowledge, why it took the Government six months to answer the questions, although Pearnel Charles Jr, then a minister in the security ministry, told the Senate in December 2016 about a “particular” diplomatic process that needed conclusion before the country was updated on the offer.

Other members of the administration, including former National Security Minister Robert Montague, said the Government preferred support for schools and factories – the long-standing position of the JLP to David Cameron, the then UK prime minister, who announced the offer on a visit to Jamaica in September 2015.