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Storm in a tea cup - Warmington rebuffs Azan's claim of political victimisation

Published:Wednesday | October 5, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Hurricane Matthew, though not making landfall in Jamaica, has triggered a feisty row between the Government and the parliamentary Opposition.

Everald Warmington is hitting back at Richard Azan, opposition spokesman for works, accusing him of creating mischief.

This after Azan lashed out at Warmington, state minister in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation with responsibility works, yesterday.

A livid Azan accused Warmington of victimising People's National Party (PNP) members of parliament (MPs) in the allocation and distribution of drain-cleaning funds.

He said Warmington has presided over the issuance of the funds to Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillors, bypassing the politically elected representatives.

"What we have picked up is that allocations have been given to JLP councillors where there is a PNP member of parliament," charged Azan, member of parliament for North West Clarendon.

"Such actions are in contravention of the respected and accepted norm of proper and accepted governance and should cease immediately," Azan said in a statement to the media yesterday.

Azan told The Gleaner that while the PNP was in office, an allocation was always given to MPs for drain-cleaning projects in preparation for the hurricane season.

"This year, for the first time, there was no allocation to any MP from the opposition side," complained Azan.

When The Gleaner contacted Warmington about the issue, he first disclosed that neither JLP nor PNP MPs got any allocation from his ministry to do work in preparation for the hurricane season.

"The National Works Agency did the drain cleaning. The funds were not allocated to MPs. They went out there and identified the drains [needing urgent cleaning] in the 14 parishes and they cleaned them," Warmington said in rebuffing Azan's assertions.

Azan, a former state minister in the Ministry of Transport and Works, argued that the advance of $1 million from the Constituency Development Fund that was made by the Government had no specific purpose. He poured cold water on the coordination efforts of the ministry.

"The practice is that when you are going to give out any work, an officer is supposed to come and take a picture before and after the work has been completed," Azan contended.

Asked Azan: "You get an allocation on Friday afternoon, which officer is going out there to take all of these pictures across the 63 constituencies?"

But Warmington said the pre-hurricane season funds that Azan mentioned were "issued to PNP alone last year".

Said the state minister: "We have never seen it. The JLP has never seen a dime."