Thu | Aug 17, 2017

I'm going to sue - Arscott cries foul over grass revelation

Published:Thursday | May 18, 2017 | 5:00 AM
Arscott

Former government minister Noel Arscott has denied claims that he benefited from 30 acres of grass under the Jamaica Dairy Development Board programme to assist dairy farmers, claiming instead that he only got the equivalent of 10 acres.

"I never requested anything. I am a member of a dairy cooperative and a legitimate dairy farmer. Other farmers in the area get the same thing," Arscott told The Gleaner yesterday.

Documents tabled yesterday in the House of Representatives by Karl Samuda, minister of industry, commerce, agriculture and fisheries, showed that Arscott was among 38 companies and individuals, including Samuda, who received grass under the JDDB programme.

"I am going to sue them because this is misinformation. My dairy farm is not 30 acres," Arscott declared, apparently oblivious to the parliamentary privilege enjoyed by Samuda.

 

PAID FOR GRASS

 

Samuda, who has been shrouded in controversy emanating from the Mombasa grass episode revealed by his opposition counterpart Dayton Campbell last week, told parliamentarians that he has paid the dairy board $546,000 to cover the cost of the services rendered at his farm in Knollis, St Catherine.

In a "personal explanation" to Parliament, which was facilitated under Standing Orders 18, Samuda told his parliamentary colleagues that he paid the sum to the dairy board yesterday.

Campbell had accused Samuda of firing Hugh Graham, chief executive officer of the JDDB, over a disagreement relating to the granting of a licence to a company to import milk powder from Colombia for resale on the local market, as well as a fallout involving the planting of Mombasa grass on the minister's property.

While refusing to reveal the names of other major players who benefited from the Mombasa grass project, Samuda told his fellow lawmakers that owners of large businesses and known political figures also received Mombasa grass under the programme.

"Let me make a public statement. Had I thought of it more carefully, and if the opportunity should ever arise again, I would not have gone the route I did," Samuda pointed out.

Further, the minister said: "It raises questions. It gives rise to speculation, and in that regard, it is unquestionably an error on my part not to have safeguarded myself appropriately."

However, Arscott described as "dishonest" and a "red herring" attempts by Samuda to point a finger at him as a beneficiary.

The former local government minister described himself as a "bona fide" dairy farmer, who is a member of the Rhymesfield Dairy Development Cooperative. He said that as a member of the cooperative, assistance was made available by the dairy board to the members.