|J'cans disappointed PM Holness missed forum|
|Thursday, 08 December 2011 12:21|
Members of South Florida's Jamaican community and others are disappointed and miffed that the anticipated visit of Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness to a community forum held at the Christ Way Baptist Church in Miramar last Saturday did not materialize.
While the large crowd of Jamaicans and representatives of South Florida media gathered at the church for the 3:00 p.m. meeting with the prime minister, he was grounded in Jamaica, having missed his scheduled flight and was scrambling to make alternate flight arrangements.
According to Jamaican Consul General Sandra Grant Griffiths, PM Holness had returned to Jamaica from Caracas, Venezuela, where he attended a meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Countries, at about 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, and spent most of that day preparing and taping a speech for national broadcast to Jamaicans that night.
His involvement in the broadcast and other urgent government commitments made him late getting to the Norman Manley Airport in Kingston for his flight, Grant Griffiths said. Though the consul general did not specify the "government commitments," sources say the prime minister was busy putting out fires from the Jamaica Development Investment Program (JDIP) scandal that the Jamaica Labor Party has been dealing with lately.
Last month, it was revealed in parliament that some J$60 million was spent on furniture for the National Works Agency (NWA) offices, in addition to the J$102 million refurbishing that set off an alarm after it was brought to light in the auditor general's special report on the (JDIP). The controversy has led to the resignation of Minister of Transport and Works Mike Henry, among others.
Though the audience was invited to attend a private fundraiser event that evening, many did not go and others felt slighted after having waited for about four hours for the prime minister to arrive. Organizers of the forum made attempts to have the prime minister address the gathering via telephone, but after several failed attempts, the crowd insisted they would wait until he arrived.
Some members of the Diaspora are questioning the Prime Minister's commitment to the Diaspora while others are laying the blame squarely at the feet of the organizers.
Tamarac resident, Harold Findlay said, "Apparently what the prime minister had to do in Jamaica was more important than turning up for a scheduled engagement with the Diaspora. The last time I checked, I didn't hear there was a state of emergency in Jamaica. Whoever was in charge of his scheduling never did a good job and it's a poor reflection on him, with whom the buck stops."
Selena Mattis of Miami said, "If the prime minister's visit was properly coordinated, why weren't adequate back up plans made to assure he could make it for forum, even he would be late?"
Grant Griffiths told the National Weekly that Holness' visit was not coordinated by the Jamaican Consulate, but by representatives of G2K the youth arm of the Jamaica Labor Party. She said Holness was invited to South Florida in his capacity as the JLP leader and not prime minister, to attend fundraisers, but private individuals had also grasped the opportunity to organize and have Holness attend and address the community forum.
She said the consulate made the necessary security arrangements with the U.S. Department of State as required for a visiting head of state to the U.S., and as protocol dictated, went to the airport to meet the prime minister.
Holness addressed the guests at private fundraiser, again apologizing for his late arrival.
|Last Updated on Friday, 09 December 2011 12:15|