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Opposition MPs starved of resources - Ruddy Spencer

Published:Thursday | September 17, 2015 | 12:00 AMDaraine Luton

Rudyard Spencer, the member of parliament for South East Clarendon, said that opposition MPs like himare being starved of resources to implement projects in their constituencies.

"I want to ask, I want to beg passionately, I want to plead with the powers that be, in giving to your ministers, in giving to your members of parliament, if you could only give us half of what you give them, we could accomplish a lot more," Spencer said as he made his contribution to the State of the Constituency Debate in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Among Spencer's gripes is that a community centre in Rocky Point in his constituency, named for Former Prime Minister Hugh Shearer, remains in a state of disrepair despite assurances from Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller that it would be addressed.

"If it is not disgraceful, I don't know what is disgraceful," he said.

"In the name of Hugh Shearer, I am asking the PNP (People's National Party), Minister (Phillip) Paulwell ... the prime minister asked him to finish that community centre, and to date, nothing has been done. In the name of what is right and what is just, I ask the Government to do something about the Hugh Lawson Shearer complex," Spencer said.

Spencer said that seven months ago, Simpson Miller called the CHASE Fund and "told them to pay attention to that centre", but nothing has been done.

South East Clarendon is expected to be a battleground constituency in the next general election. Spencer won the seat by 107 votes in the last election.

The South East Clarendon MP was among opposition MPs who were peeved by the revelation from East Central St Catherine MP Arnaldo Brown that more than $3 billion has been spent in his constituency since he became MP in 2011.

At present, all members of parliament receive an equal allocation of $15 million under the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) for spending in their constituencies annually.

Additionally, each of the island's 63 MPs are allocated $10 million for project development under the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP). So far, there have been five JEEP roll-outs which means that at least $50 million has reached the hands of each MP.

Spencer said that he has upgraded and asphalted several roads in areas such as Rocky Point and Mitchell Town and would have been able to do more had there been support from the Government.

"We have done what we are supposed to do. The only difficulty I have with that is that we could do much more only if we have the support of the Government," said Spencer, who has been MP since 2002.

"For the last seven or eight years, we have asked for the road from Mineral Heights to Lionel Town to be upgraded and finally, it was done, and it was only done to Dawkins Pen. Half of the road has not been done," Spencer said even as he thanked junior works minister Richard Azan for assisting in the upgrading of infrastructure in his constituency.