Fri | Dec 9, 2016

$2.8b debt

Published:Friday | March 25, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Rudyard Spencer

Utility companies among those to be paid by health ministry

The Ministry of Health owes $2.8 billion to suppliers and contractors for the provision of goods and services.

Health Minister Rudyard Spencer made the disclosure in Parliament on Tuesday during the Standing Finance Committee's examination of the second supplementary estimates.

Some $419 million has been allocated to the health ministry for the payment of utilities. Of this amount, $241.7 million is to pay the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) and the remaining $177 million is to pay the National Water Commission.

Despite preparing to pay the JPS $500 million for street lighting, the utility company is still owed approximately $500 million for the service, Finance Minister Audley Shaw told the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament.

Shaw resisted the disclosure of the information after being asked by Opposition Spokesman on Finance Dr Omar Davies. He said the amount owed is a "moving target" but, after probing from Davies, Shaw said the amount owed was in the region of $400-$500 million.

Parliament approved the payment of $500 million to the JPS by the Department of local government for street lighting.

Robert Montague, the minister of state in the Office of the Prime Minister, who has responsibility for local government, said the department was carrying out a joint audit with the JPS and the parish councils to ensure street lights, for which JPS charges the government, are in working condition.