Reid rubbishes PNP claims of vote buying in Norh West St Ann
Education Minister Ruel Reid has rubbished claims made by the Opposition People's National Party that he recently committed $61 million to nine schools for political gain in the North West St Ann constituency to which he was recently named as the Jamaica Labour Party candidate.
Reid told The Gleaner that while he referenced funds for critical repairs for schools in speaking at graduations in the North West St Ann area, it was in no way an attempt by him to buy votes.
"The sitting MP was there with me on most of those graduation platforms. He announced from his own CDF support for the education system with vouchers and other support for the top GSAT students, so this is not about buying votes. This is about a comprehensive strategy to improve the quality of the education system across the country," Reid explained.
He said that there has been a substantial increase in funding to the educational system since the Andrew Holness Government has been in power, noting that last year alone, the Government spent nearly $700 million in critical repairs and major infrastructure works.
CRITICAL MAINTENANCE BUDGET
"We have a $379 million critical maintenance budget that we are working on to complete by the start of the new school year, as well as we have $431 million for major expansion works," said Reid.
"And in regards to North West St Ann, like all other sections of the country, we have a comprehensive critical repairs programme, and I took the opportunity while on tour of that particular area, having visited many graduations, to reiterate our commitment to those schools," he said.
The PNP, in a release, stated that there was clear evidence that communities and projects were being hand-picked for monetary support from the public purse based only on political advantage, while genuine and worthy endeavours were being starved from lack of public funding.
Further, the PNP said, "it is perturbed that the minister could be using his ministerial position and authority to give the JLP a political advantage in North West St Ann, with the allocation of funds and resources, which is a flagrant attempt to bribe the electorate using the school system as the most receptible conduit in a constituency in which he will be the JLP's standard bearer."
It claimed that Reid visited a total of nine schools in the constituency, and made promises of $3.1 million to each of seven primary schools he visited, and that he also visited two high schools and made promises of $20 million to each school for a potpourri of activities.
"While the Opposition has no problem with schools receiving additional financial assistance, we are concerned that Senator Reid has committed a total of $61 million to nine schools in North West St Ann where he will be the JLP's candidate against the incumbent member of parliament, Dr Dayton Campbell," the PNP said.
"The People's National Party, therefore, calls upon the auditor general to investigate this matter, and to ensure that funds allocated to education are not surreptitiously diverted for political campaign purposes," the release stated.