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Holness describes PNP as ‘bad mind’ for stance on MoBay project

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has declared that he will not be side tracked by those he described as being “bad mind”, who oppose the Government’s decision to award a multi-billion contract to China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) to construct the Montego Bay Perimeter (Bypass) Road.

The awarding of the contract has been the subject of much criticism and public discourse after Parliament passed an order to exempt the project from the rules of the Public Procurement Act.

Opposition Leader and People’s National Party (PNP) President, Mark Golding, did not agree with the Government’s decision, and claimed the move went against the interest of the country.

However, Holness, who was speaking in Central Kingston on Friday, again defended his Administration’s move, saying that the time has come for speedier timeframes in how the country makes important decisions.

“We need to take the speed that we are so glorified for worldwide on the track and put that speed into our bureaucracy – get things done quickly,” Holness declared.

“For some people, if it (the road work project) don’t tek long fi duh, it nuh duh good. And for others, dem just pure bad mind, because when they were at the wicket dem never score any runs…

“Dem see me now at the wicket and mi just a throw mi bat; bup six (runs); bup four (runs),” he asserted.

The cricket analogy seemed to be a welcome addition to Holness’ arguments, as members of the audience responded with loud claps and cheers of agreement.

Holness contended that it is mere “politics” why the Opposition is allegedly seeking to “scuttle and slow down and literally cripple the Government” in moving quickly to get the long-awaited Montego Bay road project started.

And amid mounting calls for the contract for the project to be investigated, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader said there is nothing about the matter that his Government has to hide.

“Not engaging in a bilateral programme ensures that the programme is more transparent,” said Holness while declaring that, “We have nothing to hide about this programme”.

He argued further that, “Everything that we are doing is in the law.

Then he went into political overdrive of sorts.

“Who is it that conceived that it would be necessary at times for the Government to engage directly with a contractor, and came to Parliament in 2015 and passed that law? Who did it? The same man was the (then) Minister of Justice (Mark Golding)!” Holness argued vehemently.

“He (Golding) crafted that law, he wrote it, he reviewed it and approved it, and brought it to Parliament,” the prime minister continued.

Holness acknowledged that CHEC had started a significant amount of preparatory work on the Montego Bay Perimeter Project. That preparation work included the planning and the designing of the project, according to Holness.

Continuing, he said: “So they (CHEC) more than anyone else would have an understanding of the project.

“They would have done so in good faith. It is important that countries in the exercise of their diplomatic policies, that good faith always is a part of our negotiations,” he elaborated.

Turning to the benefits for Jamaicans from the project, Holness said an estimated 90 per cent of the labourers to be employed, will be Jamaicans. This, he said, was placed as a condition in the contract between the Government and CHEC.

Additionally, he noted that labourers are to benefit from “a system of apprenticeship and training” that will facilitate the transfer of critical skills.

He said local contractors also stand to benefit from subcontracts that are to arise from the project.

“Most of the work will have to be contracted out anyway. It is in China Harbour’s interest to subcontract most of the work, and we are going to ensure that that process of subcontracting is transparent as well,” assured Holness.