This month contributing writer, Delano Seiveright, discusses the "Sandals Whitehouse" project and issues of good governance & accountability in Jamaican government.
Commentary Jamaica Magazine

Sandals Whitehouse – Yet Another Crisis

I became nauseated after reading the major local newspapers (Daily Gleaner & the Jamaica Observer) lead story on June 21, 2006. The articles pertained to aspects of the Opposition Spokesman for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Mr. Karl Samuda’s comprehensive and analytical presentation in parliament. His disclosures of gross mismanagement, cronyism and the consequent overruns on the part of the government at the Sandals Whitehouse project again brings to the fore the issue of good governance and in particular accountability.

Resign?
Mr. Samuda at one point of his address stated that, “This government really should resign…In any civilized country they would have to resign.” In many civil countries their wouldn’t have to be any public outcry for their respective governments to either resign en masse or for the respective government officials with direct responsibility to resign.

Accountability
With an overrun of around US$41 million or J$2.7 billion and evidence of a hotel plagued with a myriad of dubious dealings and structural problems, one wonders why to date no one has been held accountable? Of course many Jamaicans would not hesitate to argue that gross mismanagement, cronyism and corruption have become entrenched in the current ruling administration with tens of billons of dollars going down the drain over the years. The public cannot however afford to bankroll yet another government project gone awry.

Silence of Civil Society
I am deeply disturbed by the silence of civil society on the matter. For far too long the citizens of Jamaica have been taken for a ride. There needs to be a clarion call by leading civil society figures and the people at large to not ask for, but demand accountability and by and large a commitment to the principles of good governance.

Action
It would do well if Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller acts assiduously on the suggestions made by Mr. Samuda in seeking to recover the cost of the overruns from the Nevalco Consultants led by popular PNP activist, Alston Stewart. Ironically, this is the same Alston Stewart who had left the corruption plagued National Solid Waste Management Authority, to which he was Chairman. The Prime Minister must also explain to the country why the government commissioned probe into the controversial project last year has not been made public. The spotlight has again been turned on her to see how she handles yet another crisis particularly in light of her ham-fisted handling of the cement crisis.

* Please note that these opinions are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Jamaicans.com

About the author

DelanoSeiveright