Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee, PAAC, descended into chaos this afternoon after questions were raised regarding the employment of prominent JLP members to key areas in the Tourism Ministry.
The questions were raised by PAAC Chairman and Opposition Spokesman on Tourism, Dr. Wykeham McNeill.
It provoked heated exchanges between government and opposition members of the committee.
The PAAC was already on edge after government members repeatedly questioned the Chairman’s intended agenda and line of questioning regarding road works carried out under the Tourism Enhancement Fund, TEF.
However, it deteriorated into a shouting match when Dr. McNeill pivoted to a question regarding the employment of several publicly known JLP supporters.
The PAAC Chairman questioned if the Permanent Secretary, Jennifer Griffith, had changed the Ministry’s employment policy.
Dr. McNeill tried to press on, however, the government members would not allow him to continue his line of questioning.
The government members questioned the sudden shift from roadworks to employment.
South Trelawny MP, Marisa Dalrymple Philibert, says the question sends a political message not in keeping with the mandate of the Committee.
And, East Rural St. Andrew MP, Juliet Holness, demanded the Chairman apologize to Permanent Secretary Griffith.
However, South St. Catherine MP, Fitz Jackson, questioned the resistance of the government members.
The PAAC erupted again when Dr. McNeill questioned the travel expenses of TEF Chief Communications Strategist, Delano Seiveright.
He pointed to documents which showed Mr. Seiveright racking up almost 9-million dollars in travel expenses in the last two fiscal years.
This resulted in a sharp exchange with North East St. Catherine MP, Leslie Campbell.
Information received by the PAAC indicates that Seiveright’s travel expenses, both locally and overseas, between April 2016 and March 2017 was almost $2.5-million.
Between April 2017 and March 2018, his expenses totaled almost $4.5-million. And as of April 2018 he’s racked up over $2-million in travel expenses.
Committee Member Fitz Jackson accused Mr. Campbell of attempting to be party to a cover-up.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Jennifer Griffith, who remained silent during the hour-long exchange, only spoke briefly at the end.