Pryce, Philibert lash government for EU allocation
TWO members of parliament who represents sugar-producing constituencies were left fuming yesterday after it was revealed that a $213 million inclusion in the first supplementary estimates for the 2014-2015 fiscal year will not benefit their areas.
Marisa Dalrymple Philibert and Raymond Pryce both suggested that the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC), which is examining the first supplementary estimates of expenditure, delay preparing a report for the House of Representatives until they get answers from the Sugar Transformation Unit.
The $213 million is being allocated equally to undertake health and education programmes under the Sugar Transformation Programme.
Loris Jarrett, a deputy financial secretary, said the money will be spent on the rehabilitation of basic and primary schools in Monymusk and Frome as well as the provision of computers. In the area of health, she said health centres have been identified in Falmouth, Trelawny, for general refurbishing.
"We need to understand clearly the figures, how they are being spent (and) where there are being spent. There are some projects that are there with some magnificent sums that, as
members of parliament, we are totally unaware of," Dalrymple Philibert said.
She argued that there are health centres in South Trelawny, the constituency she represents, that are in need of urgent attention.
North East St Elizabeth Member of Parliament Raymond Pryce, who shares a border with Dalrymple Phillibert, where sugar cane is grown, said the Sugar Transformation Unit should be made to explain how it undertakes its allocation of resources.
"There are ongoing concerns as to the derivation of these projects. How are they derived (and) with whom are the decision makers consulting? Because to keep hearing (that) the spend coincides with certain geographic locales which are not the entirety of the sugar-dependent regions in the 14 parishes that make up Jamaica, does not make sense," Pryce said.
"It is mind boggling," he added.
No reparation link
Meanwhile, Central Clarendon MP Mike Henry, who has been championing the cause for reparation for slavery, has requested that the finance ministry provide all relevant documents relating to the disbursements under the programme and give an assurance that it is not linked to the payment of reparation.
"I hear people talking that we are getting reparation through EU grants and I want to be very clear that I don't accept that. It is an insult," Henry said.
"I have no fear of the ownership by black people of the white colonialist, to be able to tell them that $4.7 trillion is one estimate. It does not speak to rapes, miscegenation, the abuse ...," he added.
The European Union has been providing financial assistance to ACP countries including Jamaica under the Accompanying Measures for Sugar programme. It was developed in order to cushion the negative economic and social impact of changes to the EU sugar regime, which saw the EU reducing the prices of raw sugar imports from Jamaica by 36 per cent as of 2009.