Impartial could be used to describe the address to Members of Parliament (MP) by Prime Minister Andrew Holness as he openly denounced the the words and actions coming from both his Jamaica Labour Party and the Opposition People’s National Party who last week tore into Food For the Poor (FFP) for what they claimed were poor quality houses being built for less fortunate Jamaicans under a partnership with the Government.Food For the Poor, which came out in strong defjence of the cost and quality of the houses it has been building for decades following the attack by MPs at a parliamentary committee meeting last Wednesday, took its concern to the highest level of Government when it sought a meeting with the prime minister to discuss the scathing remarks against the country’s largest charity organisation.
In a Jamaica House release yesterday following a meeting with Food For the Poor Jamaica Chairman Andrew Mahfood and his deputy Chris Bicknell, Holness said it was “unfortunate” that some Government MPs may have addressed any issue with FFP in a manner that “seemed confrontational”.
He said that was not the position of his Administration, and noted the long partnership between successive administrations and the charity.
The prime minister, meanwhile, has instructed the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation to begin negotiations with FFP for a new contract, ahead of the August expiry date of the existing five-year joint venture agreement. Under the agreement, FFP is to build 1,200 two-bedroom wooden houses per year, which is given free of cost to the poor across the island.
Concerns and criticisms from the MPs at a meeting of the Infrastructure and Physical Development Committee of Parliament with principals of the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme last Wednesday ranged from the cost per unit to the quality of the structures.
In addition, one MP alleged that the houses were termite-infested and that the cost to the Government was too much, while some some suggesting that the houses could be built for less.