Finance Minister Dr. Nigel Clarke Among Those Who Were Founding Directors of PM Holness' Positive Jamaica Foundation
Over the next few days, 18º North will be taking a look at the former directors of Positive Jamaica Foundation.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness was its chairman until December 2021, when he ceased being a director.
Of note, is how some of his co-directors from the time of Positive Jamaica’s inception in 2011 ascended to prominent positions after or during their association with the foundation.
Finance Minister Dr. Nigel Clarke is one of them.
A former Goldman Sachs derivatives trader in London, business executive and director at various local conglomerates, including The Musson Group and National Commercial Bank, Dr. Clarke was among the first batch of directors of Positive Jamaica when the non-profit was registered on November 15, 2011.
Back then, Mr. Holness was serving his first term as Prime Minister. An article in New York’s Daily News on Nov. 18, 2011 reported that he spoke at a luncheon in midtown Manhattan before business executives, diplomats and VIPs, and that the event was presented by Positive Jamaica Foundation.
Just a few weeks later, on December 4, Mr. Holness would go on to call a general election for December 29, 2011. However, his Jamaica Labour Party lost to the People’s National Party, ushering the return of Portia Simpson Miller as prime minister.
While serving as a director of Positive Jamaica, Dr. Clarke served as an Opposition Senator between 2013 and 2015. Opposition senators are usually appointed by the Governor-General under the advice of the Opposition Leader, which would have been Mr. Holness at the time.
When Mr. Holness won back the premiership of the country in February 2016, Dr. Clarke was named Ambassador Plenipotentiary for Economic Affairs in the Office of the Prime Minister and appointed as chairman of public boards, like the National Housing Trust (NHT) as well as the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ)—two entities that fall under ministries that Mr. Holness controls.
Dr. Clarke ceased being a director of Positive Jamaica Foundation on November 1, 2016, according to Companies Office records. He was elected member of parliament for St. Andrew North Western in a by-election on March 5, 2018 and then named Minister of Finance and the Public Service when Prime Minister Holness reshuffled his Cabinet later that month.
Dr. Clarke didn’t answer a question about what his role entailed as director of the foundation or why he stopped serving in that role.
Neither did he respond when asked about who the donors to the foundation were; whether any of the funds from the foundation were spent on elections or political purposes; and whether his government appointments were some of the benefits of having served as a director of the foundation.
For his part, Mr. Holness didn’t answer questions about whether he was involved in appointing Dr. Clarke to the senator or finance minister roles and whether he was the one that prompted Dr. Clarke to run for elected office in 2018.
However, as far as the finance minister role is concerned, which is a part of the Cabinet, the Constitution outlines that the Cabinet is appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister.
In 2016, when Dr. Clarke was appointed chairman of the NHT, that entity fell under the Office of the Prime Minister, over which Mr. Holness presided and still presides, and presiding ministers are usually the ones to recommend board members for public bodies that fall under their ministries before Cabinet approves them.
Up to press time, 18º North couldn’t ascertain when exactly in 2016 Dr. Clarke became chairman of Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) or when PAJ switched from being under the Ministry of Transport & Mining to the Ministry of Economic Growth & Job Creation, whose minister is Mr. Holness.
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And check out our previously-published special report examining the financials of Positive Jamaica: