NHT Board Members Resign Amid Outameni Controversy

Published: Tuesday | November 18, 2014
Jamaica Gleaner
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer [email protected]

Daryl Vaz, who last week called for the removal of the National Housing Trust (NHT) board, has declared that the first two casualties of the controversy over the purchase of the Outameni Experience attraction, were just a start.

Kavan Gayle, the president general of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP)-affiliated Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), and Helene Davis Whyte, vice-president of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions and general secretary of the Jamaica Association of Local Government Officers (JALGO), tendered their resignations yesterday.

They were members of the Easton Douglas-led NHT board that has been under fire since news broke in late October that the NHT had purchased lands in Trelawny on which the Outameni attraction is located for $180 million and planned to spend another $120 million.

The two prominent trade union activists resigned a day after former owner of the property, Lennie Little-White, reacted defiantly to additional revelations at the JLP annual conference on the weekend that the bleeding property had been bailed out twice in transactions that also involved the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ).

Davis White said she was not forced out. She told The Gleaner/Power106 News Centre yesterday that, in the context of the ballooning controversy, and following consultations with family members and colleagues, she opted to step aside to give the prime minister a free hand to appoint a new board.

Of Gayle's decision, Vaz said: "I would have expected no less based on the fact that we (the parliamentary Opposition) tomorrow (Tuesday) intend to table more questions relating to the NHT debacle."

While Gayle, a member of the JLP, was absent from the party conference, citing illness, Vaz had been vociferous in his declarations that the trade unionist had no choice but to quit the board.

The Gleaner was unable to contact Gayle up to press time.

"How could he (Gayle) stay on when we in the Opposition call on other members, when one of ours is on the board that made such bad, poor judgement," said Vaz, an opposition member of parliament.