The Jamaica Labour Party is demanding that Prime Minister P.J. Patterson “come from behind the curtains” and accept responsibility for the $2 billion scandal at the National Solid Waste Management Authority.
The Opposition is also insisting on banning Alston Stewart, the former executive chairman of the solid waste agency, from benefiting from public resources.
At a press conference yesterday at the JLP’s Belmont Road headquarters in St. Andrew, Opposition Leader Bruce Golding told journalists that the Prime Minister should accept accountability on a professional and personal level for the waste of public funds at the state agency.
“Not only is he ultimately in charge of the Government, but this sordid affair involves persons very close to him. Was this not enough for him to take special care to ensure that the involvement of these persons occurred with utmost transparency, impartiality and accountability?” asked Mr. Golding.
“Mr. Patterson cannot remain silent. Telling us about ministerial responsibility will not do,” said the JLP leader.
Mr. Golding, who was flanked by members of his Shadow Cabinet, added that allowing Alston Stewart access to the public purse in any area of the public sector would be a slap in the face to the people of Jamaica. “His close personal friendship to the Prime Minister is well known. However, it is our considered opinion that based on his track record, his arrogance and his total disregard for established procedures, we can no longer afford his involvement in public sector activities,” he declared.
Accordingly, Mr. Golding called for the removal of Mr. Stewart from the upcoming construction of the Greenfield Stadium in Trelawny. “That would be an insult to the Jamaican people and we call firmly for his removal from that project,” stressed Mr. Golding.
In addition, Mr. Golding stated that while he was not calling for the resignations of Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who has portfolio responsibility for the NSWMA, he is demanding that she declares what she knows about the scandal and when she gathered that knowledge. Among the six proposals made by Mr. Golding to deal with this “systematic problem” are a discontinuation of the practice of appointing executive chairmen and the appointment of a prosecutor-general, who would deal directly with corruption in the public sector.