PM Simpson Miller expanded on her answer, stating that she had been advised by the board of the NHT that their decision to purchase the property at Orange Grove in Trelawny, and not the attraction known as Outameni Experience, “was firmly grounded in the National Housing Trust Act of 1979”.
Ok I am confused here. The PM just told the nation that the NHT has purchased the LAND that Outameni sits on but NOT the building that houses the brand Outameni? In other words the PM, in reading from her notes, is saying one of two things to the nation. Firstly the NHT, in its agreement with the owners of the property, has bought the land only but the buildings and other improvements is separate from the sale agreement and therefore subject to further negotiations or the NHT has entered into an agreement that is as stupid as the board themselves.
When we pump J$180m of taxpayers money into an ill thought out investment without the taxpayers questioning the purchase, we are building monsters at the gate of capitalism that will sooner be tamed than afforded to be let loose to continue to pillage and plunder as they feel. The NHT was created by the government of Jamaica as an independent agency. The purpose of the NHT is simple – to assist with and create opportunities for Jamaicans to own affordable housing. This cash cow receives its flow without fear or favor from every Jamaican that is working, employer, self -employed or volunteer so needless to say it has cash, lots of cash, something the government does not have. If the purchase of the property was land only then whiter the building? The question still prevails what did the NHT buy?
There is a saying in real estate that says what you own depends on what you bought. Only the documents of sale can answer this question . I tried to see these documents but of course you cannot find these records online. Has the NHT bought the land only but now must spend additional money to either remove or refurbish the building? Or has the NHT bought the land and has the right to build houses on the property or has the NHT as the sole owner of land and chattels, decided to exercise its new found powers of becoming investors in an attraction that will generate more than the investment they made to purchase? Is this the NHT’s answer of generating income for its primary focus of increasing revenue to build houses? Are they now entertainment operators?
The PM certainly feels so based from the words coming from her lips that the NHT board was..’exploring the possibility of acquiring and operating the investment as an educational and cultural heritage as well as a tourist attraction.” So apparently the NHT is continuing its lucrative portfolio of owning ‘cultural enterprises’ , Emancipation Park being one of the other enterprises, to give back to the contributors as well as to generate funds to further enhance their core portfolio of providing houses for the people of Jamaica. Sounds like a plan but any plan is only as good as the magical hands that rub it. Does the NHT have a wizard rubbing this plan?
People are skeptical of politics like this in that the truth is rarely a politicians objective, election and power are. On the surface it sounds like a good plan but statutory bodies, like all government agencies, are not famous for their efficient and profitable operation of any enterprise. The NHT should set up a separate management body to manage these assets, monitoring and ensuring profit is not substituted for political gains. The NHT by its makeup and profitability is capable of making decisions of this nature for the intended objective. As I wrote in another op-ed our tourist and people are tired of Dunn’s River. Jamaica needs this portfolio in its arsenal of attractions to tourist and locals alike , but without proper management can lead to a colossal loss, an experience the previous owners knew only too well. Outameni becomes out of pocket, a pocket Jamaicans have long tried to sew the large hole that keeps expanding everytime he shoves his hand to find money to pay for anything!
My advice to the naysayers is this, stop, drink some coffee and calm down it may not be as bad as it is politicised. There are many out there hoping to get the keys to the political city of Fame but thankfully we have changed the locks to free loaders. The NHT can and has made the purchase albeit clandestine and suspiciously. Could it have been done more transparently the answer is a resounding yes. But transparency is never the objective of government which is ironic as transparency manages politics and mistrust, a lesson they refuse to learn. But unlike the PM and her inept knowledge of issues and pulse on matters relating to Jamaica, the people have a right to ask and require accountability. J$180M is a lot of money and tax-payers want to know their money is well spent with the ultimate knowledge that any investment of their money will equate over the long term to more opportunities for a lower mortgage to affordable housing. That should be the ultimate objective. Owning a home should not be a luxury only for the rich. Manley in his infinte grace left this legacy for the people of Jamaica an entity called the NHT. This institution, like Jamaica, is still owned by Jamaicans. Governments have changed but the institution remains but when people’s misery is caused not by nature itself but by institutions such as the NHT, then our sins are great and mortal, very, very mortal.