MPs will not get money, af­ter $6m back­hoe goes out of use

Jamaica Gleaner - - SOMETHING EXTRA - Jo­van John­son Staff Reporter jo­van.john­son@glean­erjm.com

THE CON­STITUENCY Devel­op­ment Fund (CDF) Com­mit­tee of Par­lia­ment has warned mem­bers of par­lia­ment that they will not get ap­proval to buy fixed as­sets fol­low­ing the “dis­as­ter” in­volv­ing the $6-mil­lion pur­chase of a back­hoe in 2007.

The is­sue was raised at a meet­ing on Tues­day af­ter St Thomas West­ern rep­re­sen­ta­tive, James Robert­son, ques­tioned the pol­icy on the pur­chase of fixed as­sets for con­stituen­cies.

Moveta Mun­roe, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the CDF unit in the Of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter, and Ever­ald Warmington, the chair­man of the par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee, de­clared that there is no such pol­icy and one will not be put in place.

Mun­roe said the de­ci­sion not to al­low MPs to buy fixed as­sets fol­lowed ex­pe­ri­ences with the pur­chase of the back­hoe for St An­drew West Ru­ral in the first year of the CDF’s es­tab­lish­ment in 2007.

“At the in­cep­tion of the CDF, one such project was ap­proved and to date, I can only re­fer to it as a to­tal dis­as­ter, some­thing that should never have hap­pened, and in our guide­lines we have it [that] no cap­i­tal goods to be pur­chased, ex­cept in the case of com­put­ers,” she said.

The CDF head ar­gued that sev­eral fac­tors ex­plained the po­si­tion on the fund. Moveta Mun­roe

“Who owns this equip­ment? ... Who cov­ers the in­sur­ance? Who buys the oil? Who pays the trac­tor driver? It should never have hap­pened and we will not ap­prove such projects go­ing for­ward.”

A SUS­TAIN­ABLE PLAN

An­drew Gal­limore, who was MP when the equip­ment was bought, re­port­edly spent $11 mil­lion out of the $20 mil­lion al­lo­cated to his con­stituency on the back­hoe and cov­er­ing its op­er­a­tion cost.

Mun­roe said that a “sus­tain­able plan” that would have al­lowed for other con­stituen­cies to use the equip­ment, at a cost, fell through.

Sit­ting MP Juliet Cuth­bert Flynn said she will not be giv­ing any fo­cus on op­er­at­ing the equip­ment, which the CDF said, un­der its guide­lines, can­not be owned by the con­stituency.

As she sought to ex­plain her ap­proach since be­com­ing MP, Mun­roe in­ter­vened, re­quest­ing the sit­u­a­tion be dis­cussed out­side of the com­mit­tee meet­ing.

Warmington, mean­while, said “no in­flu­ence will be brought on me to sign such stuff (pur­chase of fixed as­sets)”.

He was the CDF com­mit­tee chair­man at the time when the pur­chase of the back­hoe was pro­posed, but Mun­roe ex­plained that the com­mit­tee had con­cerns and the ap­proval was given by “an­other level”.

The back­hoe is based at the Na­tional Works Agency (NWA), the im­ple­ment­ing agency that pur­chased it.

Stephen Shaw, the com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager at the NWA, told The Gleaner that the back­hoe was not work­ing and had been down for two years.

“The re­pairs have to be done through the dealer and that is where it is. The is­sue is fund­ing to have the re­pairs done,” he said, not­ing that the pro­cure­ment doc­u­ments have to be re­vis­ited to de­ter­mine the true own­er­ship.

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