Air J given 'one last chance' to appear before parliament

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Air J given 'one last chance' to appear before parliament

Unread post by bimjim » Sun Feb 15, 2009 ... ITTEE_.asp

Air J given 'one last chance' to appear before parliamentary committee
Inside Parliament
With Alicia Dunkley
Sunday, February 15, 2009

THE failure of top executives of embattled national carrier Air Jamaica to appear before a parliamentary committee on more than one occasion has drawn the ire of members and calls for the entity to be sanctioned.

A meeting of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee of last Wednesday hung in limbo for well over an hour because of a last-minute response by Air Jamaica to say neither Bruce Nobles, the airline's president, nor its chair Shirley Williams could attend.

The committee has, since July of last year, been asking Air Jamaica to unveil the details of its business plan geared at guiding the major restructuring exercise to be undertaken by the airline, which is a major drain on the public purse. Representatives of the airline, appearing before the committee last year, had said they would not be able to share details of the plan until it was presented to Cabinet. Since then however, attempts to have scheduled meetings with the airline's management have fallen through.

"As chairman of this committee I must tell you that I find it totally unacceptable that a public body, with public servants paid by the public purse of this country, should send two responses like this to us," Committee Chair Dr Wykeham McNeill said, noting that this was the second such rejection to be received from the airline at short notice.

Committee member St Aubyn Bartlett said Air Jamaica's absence from the meeting was tantamount to the boycott of a parliamentary committee by church groups last week. The groups, led by Father Richard Holung, refused to make a presentation to less than the full complement of the Joint Select Committee of Parliament contemplating the report of the Abortion Policy Review Advisory Group (APRAG).

"The committee was brought into disrepute by (Holung's) actions, Bartlett said.

"This entity (Air Jamaica )," he continued, "has turned us down flatly on more than one occasion. If they had come and we had not been here, they would have made a public spectacle like that member of the public last week. I am incensed."

Committee member Natalie Neita Headley further added that the language used by Air Jamaica in its responses was "abrupt and unapologetic".

"I feel as if the committee is being disregarded. Remind Air Jamaica that we have sanctions in place," she said.
Colleague members Franklin Witter and Othneil Lawrence made appeals for the committee to "exercise its power" and "send a signal".

In the end, the advice of House Speaker Delroy Chuck was sought. It was decided that Air Jamaica be given one last chance to redeem itself by accepting an invite, which will this time be issued by Clerk to the Houses of Parliament Heather Cooke, and copied to Minister without portfolio in the Finance Ministry Senator Don Wehby who has responsibility for Air Jamaica.

If the entity fails to respond, the matter will be taken before the Parliament which will then issue an order for Air Jamaica to attend. Depending, the affair can also be referred to the Privileges Committee for contempt.

Air Jamaica is expected to appear before the Committee on Wednesday.

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