Holness Answers.…

Opposition Leader Andrew Holness.

Opposition Leader Andrew Holness.

Opposition Leader Andrew Holness last night respond­ed to ques­tions about his house posed by the rul­ing People’s National Party (PNP), dis­clos­ing what he described as “an unprece­dent­ed amount of per­son­al finan­cial affairs” and stat­ing that he was doing so “in the inter­est of trans­paren­cy and integri­ty” as a pub­lic figure.

At the same time Holness, the leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), fired back nine ques­tions at the PNP and Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips, say­ing that they need to pro­vide answers “for the sake of com­plete­ness and transparency”.
Here is the full text of Holness’s statement:

My fel­low Jamaicans,

Recently the People’s National Party, name­ly the min­is­ter of finance, has politi­cised my per­son­al affairs.

As a pub­lic fig­ure, I have a duty to ensure that my affairs meet legal and eth­i­cal stan­dards, recog­nis­ing as well that we are now in an elec­tion cam­paign, where there is a con­cert­ed effort by the PNP to dis­tract from the plans that the Jamaica Labour Party has put for­ward in our 10-Point Plan for the ben­e­fit and pros­per­i­ty of the peo­ple of Jamaica.

I will answer these ques­tions, but first, for the sake of com­plete­ness and trans­paren­cy, we, too, have ques­tions to ask Dr Phillips and the PNP:

1. Dr Phillips, as a par­lia­men­tar­i­an earn­ing prac­ti­cal­ly the same salary as the Leader of the Opposition, how did you afford the house you present­ly live in, which is val­ued at mul­ti­ple times your salary?

2. Were you a part of the Cabinet of Jamaica which cre­at­ed FINSAC, and which took away the prop­er­ty of many hard-work­ing Jamaicans and dec­i­mat­ed the entre­pre­neur­ial class?

3. If the answer to ques­tion 2 is yes, did you acquire any of the prop­er­ties tak­en over by FINSAC, or ben­e­fit in any­way whatsoever.

4. Did mem­bers of the Cabinet that cre­at­ed FINSAC acquire prop­er­ties tak­en over by FINSAC.

5. Do the answers to ques­tions 2, 3 and 4 explain your unwill­ing­ness to com­plete and release the FINSAC report?

6. Do you own or have a ben­e­fi­cial inter­est in a house in Beverly Hills?

7. Are there mem­bers the Cabinet who have off­shore companies?

8. Will you declare any assets you have overseas?

9. Will the offi­cers of the PNP, includ­ing your­self, tes­ti­fy and come clean about Trafigura?

The above ques­tions are per­ti­nent to the elec­torate, par­tic­u­lar­ly those relat­ing to Finsac. Those who lost their prop­er­ties due to Government pol­i­cy have a right to know if their min­is­ters of Government ben­e­fit­ed from their loss.

Now, I will take the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dis­pose of the smear cam­paign and innu­en­does of illic­it fund­ing ini­ti­at­ed by the PNP.

Upon becom­ing a min­is­ter, and also hav­ing regard to the fact that I had a young fam­i­ly, I took legal and account­ing advice as to how I should struc­ture my per­son­al affairs.

Consequent on that advice I incor­po­rat­ed an inter­na­tion­al busi­ness com­pa­ny in St Lucia.

This course of action is com­mon prac­tice, par­tic­u­lar­ly for estate plan­ning pur­pos­es. The name of the com­pa­ny, ADMAT, is a com­bi­na­tion of the names of my two sons Adam and Matthew.

I am the sole direc­tor of the com­pa­ny and the com­pa­ny has three share­hold­ers being my sons and myself.

The com­pa­ny was reg­is­tered in 2008 and declared to the Integrity Commission that year.

Everything I own is phys­i­cal­ly in Jamaica.

In late 2010, I start­ed nego­ti­a­tions to pur­chase a piece of land to con­struct my fam­i­ly home.

In January 2011, I made the first of four pay­ments on the land.

Payments were com­plet­ed in August 2011.

The title was trans­ferred in July 2011. At the time of sign­ing I did not write any state­ment say­ing, “signed while on a vis­it to Jamaica”.

Funds from my accounts at JMMB and Stocks and Securities were used to finance the pur­chase of the property.

In September 2012, we began prepa­ra­tion of the site for con­struc­tion, which involved exca­va­tion of boul­ders and frag­men­ta­tion of rocks.

The result­ing stones from this process were used to con­struct retain­ing, fac­ing and bound­ary walls. This ini­tial phase was financed from my sav­ings, salary and sup­pli­ers’ cred­it of approx­i­mate­ly $3.8 million.

This ini­tial phase cost approx­i­mate­ly $8.6 million.

The sec­ond phase was the actu­al erec­tion of the struc­ture, this hap­pened dur­ing 2013 at a cost of approx­i­mate­ly $35 mil­lion which was financed by a $10 mil­lion home improve­ment loan from Scotiabank, a $3 mil­lion mort­gage from Jamaica National, and supplier’s cred­it of approx­i­mate­ly $15.6 mil­lion. My wife, being a real estate devel­op­er, has estab­lished cred­it lines for the sup­ply of con­struc­tion and build­ing mate­r­i­al and equip­ment rental. The sup­pli­ers’ cred­it came from this source.

In 2014 we com­plet­ed all major con­struc­tion and in that year spent approx­i­mate­ly $9 mil­lion financed by salary, sav­ings and supplier’s credit.

In 2015, there was no sig­nif­i­cant con­struc­tion activ­i­ty as the project was sub­stan­tial­ly complete.

To date, the total cost of land prepa­ra­tion, con­struc­tion and land­scap­ing is approx­i­mate­ly $52 mil­lion spent over a peri­od of four years, financed by sav­ings, salary, bank loans, and supplier’s credit.

Currently I am ser­vic­ing debt repay­ments to the banks and to suppliers.

All of this has been declared in my annu­al integri­ty reports which have been filed with­in the statu­to­ry time frame.

My report for the year 2015 will be filed by March 31, 2016 as required by law.

So, in the inter­est of trans­paren­cy and integri­ty in pub­lic life, I have dis­closed an unprece­dent­ed amount of per­son­al finan­cial affairs. Furthermore, our Government will be com­mit­ted to trans­paren­cy. In the com­ing days we will be pub­lish­ing the Jamaica Labour Party’s plan to address corruption.

I have now met the demands of the People’s National Party. I look for­ward to debat­ing Mrs Simpson Miller soon. Story orig­i­nat­ed here : Holness answers