MPs: Con­stituents be­lieve we got ex­tra funds for Matthew

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

EVERALD WARMINGTON, chair­man of the Con­stituency De­vel­op­ment Fund (CDF) of Par­lia­ment, told mem­bers of par­lia­ment (MPs) yes­ter­day that they were “cry­ing over spilt milk” as the rep­re­sen­ta­tives claim they are be­ing hounded by con­stituents who in­sist that they re­ceived an ex­tra mil­lion dol­lars to pre­pare for Hur­ri­cane Matthew.

The is­sue was raised on the mo­tion to ad­journ the CDF meet­ing and re­sulted in sus­tained de­bate and gavel beat­ing.

Ahead of the pas­sage of Matthew, Prime Min­is­ter An­drew Hol­ness called a meet­ing of all MPs on Septem­ber 29, where, among other things, it was de­cided that $1 mil­lion would be ad­vanced to each con­stituency from their $20-mil­lion CDF al­lo­ca­tion for the fi­nan­cial year.

How­ever, Manch­ester North Western rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mikael Phillips said com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the prime min­is­ter and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Des­mond McKen­zie gave the im­pres­sion that MPs were given ad­di­tional funds.

“I stood up in a hard­ware on the Satur­day morn­ing where a res­i­dent said to me, ‘Look at how the prime min­is­ter has given you ad­di­tional funds of $1 mil­lion,’” Phillips said.

How­ever, Moveta Mun­roe, head of the CDF Unit in the Of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter, said: “I can’t deal with per­cep­tions at this point. I have to deal with what the facts are.”

She said an email was sent to MPs ask­ing them to out­line how they would use the money, as well as reaf­firm­ing that the money was part of the $20-mil­lion CDF al­lo­ca­tion. “The CDF Unit would be la­belled as most ir­re­spon­si­ble if we just dis­bursed $1 mil­lion,” she added, be­fore Phillips in­ter­rupted, say­ing, “But that is the im­pres­sion out there by the Cabi­net and the prime min­is­ter.”

MIS­UN­DER­STAND­ING

St Ann North Western rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dr Day­ton Camp­bell later in­ter­vened, ex­plain­ing that be­cause the sit­u­a­tion oc­curred in the mid­dle of the fi­nal year, some MPs may have sub­mit­ted projects cov­er­ing their en­tire CDF al­lo­ca­tion.

“There­fore,” he said, “[the MPs] would not have any­thing to ad­vance and that is what is creat­ing this prob­lem out there. Peo­ple are of the im­pres­sion that this was new money that was made avail­able to each con­stituency. The air needs to be clear on this mat­ter.”

Mun­roe dis­missed that ar­gu­ment, say­ing no MP had re­ceived his or her full al­lo­ca­tion, and that if there was need, the unit would have pro­vided the sum.

Warmington, stress­ing that the is­sue had been ad­dressed by the CDF Unit, told the com­mit­tee mem­bers that “we can’t cry over spilt milk, you know. This pass an gone.”

Mun­roe, mean­while, said while she could not pro­vide a spe­cific num­ber, up to eight per cent of MPs had ac­cessed the $1 mil­lion.

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