Parliamentary committee rushes to spend millions on Christmas work
Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
MORE THAN $47 million worth of 'Christmas work' was yesterday approved by the Constituency Development Fund Committee of Parliament, which overlooked several concerns and signed off on the projects in time for the holidays.
The committee approved 25 projects with a total value of $47.2 million, $35.3 million of which was aimed at providing 'special employment'.
With yesterday being the last scheduled meeting of the committee before the Parliament rises for the Christmas break, head of the CDF Unit Moveta Munroe as well as the members of the committee did not turn back submitted projects.
During the deliberations, one project which was submitted by North East St Catherine Member of Parliament Gregory Mair, caught the attention of committee member Colin Fagan.
The project is for drain cleaning work across several communities in the constituency. Fagan, who is also the junior minister for local government, said he was "wondering if all these areas (listed in the project document) have drains."
"It is for special employment and I understand that ... . But I am just saying what if someone takes up this project and would want to do an audit, if the auditors would find drains in all these areas," Fagan questioned.
He was interrupted by the CDF Munroe who asked committee members to "exercise some form of leniency."
"The point is a very valid one, Mr chairman, and what I would like to do is ask the meeting to exercise some form of leniency and we (will) revisit that schedule of work with the (National) Works Agency," Munroe said.
Apparently not satisfied with that response, Fagan insisted:"It doesn't come over good."
But Munroe assured him "we will revisit with the works agency and have it tidied up" and that seemed to have satisfied Fagan.
"Mr chairman, I am signing pending ... ," he responded.
Committee member Everald Warmington questioned a project submitted by Member of Parliament for North West St Catherine Robert Pickersgill.
The $3.2 millon project made budgetary allocations for bushing, cleaning and painting.
"But then around the back here you have a sheet that don't tell us much. There is no programme within the work schedule for painting," Warmington protested.
"I'm not going to say we should return it... is the last meeting, but in the future MPs need to do a better job than this," he said.
Committee member J.C. Hutchinson also pointed out that North West St Ann Member of Parliament Dr Dayton Campbell did not sign the project he submitted.
Warmington noted MPs are required to sign their programmes and acknowledged that this might have been an oversight.
"I am suggesting that being the last meeting, it is signed contingent on the areas being taken of in due course," he said.