Holnesses and Conflicts of HEART/NTSA?

Anyone who has followed my observations of Jamaican politics will know that I have been very impressed by the current 2-term member of parliament for the St Andrew East Rural constituency – Juliet Holness. Holness is also the wife of Andrew Holness, current prime minister for the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) administration.

Juliet Holness is along with Mark Golding (Leader of the Opposition) two of the more impressive parliamentarians to watch in action. In others words, they come to debate and committee proceedings well prepared, commanding, unflustered and articulate their positions in the most concise, mature and simplistic fashion.

But I have to question the logic of Mrs Holness sitting in on a recent Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) select committee hearing that was looking into disturbing events at the vocational academy HEART NSTA Trust. Mrs Holness is a senior member of the PAAC and owns every sitting in a topnotch way.

One of the issues discussed at this hearing was the recent resignation of Edward Gabbidon as chairman of HEART/NSTA. This development followed recent media reports of Gabbidon’s possible conflict of interest with a private company of which he is the CEO that is said to have benefitted from contracts with HEART/NSTA.

Mrs Holness was emphatic in her disappointment over the resignation of Mr Gabbidon. She felt the resignation was uncalled for.

But from the outset I think Mrs Holness should have recused herself of any discussion to do with senior management workings at HEART/NSTA given that the government minister with responsibilities for HEART/NSTA is indeed her husband.

In any scrutiny of a public body, if are serious issues raised about its senior management, then questions will be asked of the government minister(s) with oversight for that public entity. Such as what did the government minister know? What did the minister do to fix the issue? Who in this case is the PM.

One of the aspects of Jamaican society that has held it back in some key areas is the constant conflict of interests and where individuals do not step away when they should do so.

Deep conflicts of interest happens in education, it happens in politics, the law & politics, the media and even in the decades fight against violent or organized crime.

Conflicts of interests sometimes get in the way of real achievements or decisive positive outcomes and as such can hamper the success for the many and not just the well-connected few.

But committee-wise Mrs Holness is still in a class of her own.

Further info

Juliet Holness says former HEART/NSTA chair treated unfairly – Jamaica Observer, January 2021

About africanherbsman1967

Ideas Man
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