Housing Minister reassigned over “conflict of interest” allegations – President

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Former Junior Communities Minister with responsibility for Housing, Valerie Patterson-Yearwood, was reassigned in light of the controversy surrounding the award of a multi-million dollar contract to her husband, Godfrey Yearwood.

President David Granger confirmed this morning that the decision to move the minister to another ministry is in the “public interest”.

Patterson-Yearwood was reassigned as the Ministry of Agriculture with responsibility for rural affairs, a position which did not previously exist.

“There were certain allegations and I felt that it will be in the public interest for her to go to another Ministry. She has not been convicted of any crime and I feel that her services would be used supporting the Minister of Agriculture [Noel Holder]…,” President Granger told reporters on the sidelines of an event this morning.

“At this point, I am satisfied that she has not committed any criminal offence, that she is a fit and proper person to continue to serve in the Department of Rural Affairs in the Ministry of Agriculture,” the Head-of-State expressed.

Minister Patterson-Yearwood’s husband was awarded several contracts by the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA). She has since insisted that she did not intervene or influence the process to allow her husband to benefit.

When she was asked about her reassignment during the last sitting of the National Assembly, Patterson-Yearwood contended that the transfer was not a demotion.

“My salary is not affected, my allowances…nothing is affected,” she said.

Meanwhile, Minister Annette Ferguson, who previously served as Junior Public Infrastructure Minister, will be taking over as Minister with responsibility for Housing.

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