Danville Walker brushes aside conflict of interest claims over land project
Danville Walker, who chairs both the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) Holdings Limited, has brushed aside assertions that he was conflicted in the preparation of the Greater Bernard Lodge Development Master Plan.
In a statement yesterday, Walker made it clear that he joined the SCJ Holdings after "all matters touching and concerning the finalisation of the Greater Bernard Lodge Development Master Plan were concluded."
Chairman of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) Dr Wykeham McNeill raised questions on Wednesday about Walker's role as chairman for both NEPA and SCJ in relation to the Bernard Lodge project.
He suggested that there was an "inherent conflict" of interest.
Another committee member Fitz Jackson charged that NEPA, in its regulatory role, had rejected applications in the past for housing development on the Greater Bernard Lodge lands.
He questioned what has changed that now causes NEPA to give the greenlight for housing development in the area.
The PAAC had said that Walker should be asked to appear before the committee to address the concerns raised during deliberations on Wednesday.
Walker said he was not averse to attending a meeting of the committee to set the record straight.
He said that NEPA was directed by Cabinet in 2017 to complete the Greater Bernard Lodge Development Master Plan.
NEPA is an executive agency in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation with its own organisational structure.
Walker noted that on diverse dates between June and July 2017, SCJ Holdings and NEPA deliberated/negotiated the cost to complete the Greater Bernard Lodge Development Master Plan.
" I was appointed as chairman of NEPA in April 2016. I joined the SCJH’s Board of Directors on April 3, 2018 and was appointed Interim Chairman on February 1, 2019. The Greater Bernard Lodge Development Master Plan was approved by Cabinet Decision No. 9/18 on March 12, 2018. Take very careful note of the dates. I joined SCJH after all matters touching and concerning the finalisation of the Greater Bernard Lodge Development Master Plan were concluded."