Wed | May 24, 2017

Parliament's CDF committee was unaware or misinformed - Holness

Published:Friday | June 12, 2015 | 6:00 AM

The following is a statement from Opposition Leader Andrew Holness in reaction to reports coming out of a parliamentary committee meeting where $8.8 million allocated to him from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) was discussed.

For ease of reference and to avoid you going through the mundane task of research, I wish to draw your attention to an article published in your paper in 2013 which gives a public explanation of your story. In effect, the Gleaner article answered its own questions if it were referenced.

1. The funds were never designated for a Zinc Fence Removal Project. This is a matter of fact that is documented with CDF.

2. They were always dedicated to building a new home for the Olympic Gardens Police Station and town centre for the area which is showing signs of developing into a major commercial centre in Kingston. The idea was to build out a community service centre area modelled off the community service centre built in Grants Pen which includes a police station and an area for community and civic activity.

3. When the CDF was instituted in 2008, it was policy that MPs could set aside funds for major community development projects which could not be funded in a year. The objective of the CDF was to assist MPs to undertake meaningful community development projects. At that time, the first constituency allocation was in the order of JA$30m. Since then, the CDF has been cut to JA$15m.

4. We have done all the preliminary work on the project, including architectural design, building approvals and bills of quantities. At the time the project was conceived, the police station was projected to cost JA$35m. The plan was to secure JA$15m of this amount through savings from the CDF over time and secure co-funding from other government agencies, international partners and multilateral agencies. The present cost of constructing the police station is now in the region of JA$50m.

5. It became increasingly clear that, though the existing police station is woefully inadequate, there was no interest either on the part of the Government or funding agencies to undertake such a project.

6. It was prudent not to start the construction of the project until the full funding was resolved, thereby retaining the option to change the use of the funds if full funding was not secured.

7. The plan to create a town centre at the corner of Olympic Way and Bay Farm Road to support business development and employment in the area is not abandoned. Instead, we will be focusing on another aspect of the big vision for the development of the community, which is to create a 'hip strip' on Olympic Way where there is a burgeoning entertainment business. When we are in a better position to set community development policy, the Olympic Gardens Police Station and Community Service Centre Complex will be built.

8. We have now decided to use some of the funds saved to effect temporary repairs to the police station, connect a community to the sewer main along Olympic Way, and the balance on co-funding zinc removal along Olympic Way and others in the constituency as part of the hip-strip project.

9. For the change of use to be effected, it must get the approval of the CDF Parliamentary Committee. Hence the discussion in Parliament, which apparently was unaware of the details or misinformed.

10. I would be grateful for your publication of the clarification.