Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Outstanding road patching works to swell $600m de-bushing budget

Published:Tuesday | January 17, 2017 | 1:57 PM

The National Works Agency (NWA) is reporting that the road patching component of the controversial de-bushing programme will start "soon".

Some $105 million remains from the $606 million budget for patching works, which will not be adequate.

The Gleaner earlier reported that spending on the de-bushing programme will increase by over $200 million as contained in the revised budget.

The expenditure has dominated the Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) examination of the budget.

Chairman Dr Wykeham McNeill has noted a letter from the Prime Minister Andrew Holness in December which stated that the funding for the road patching would have been covered by the $606 million. 

In the letter, seen by The Gleaner, Holness said $2 million was to be allocated per constituency while another $1 million would go to each constituency for drain cleaning.

However, he emphasised that the NWA would have the final say.

NWA chief executive officer E.G. Hunter told the PAAC this morning that the drain cleaning component is "substantially" complete while the de-bushing work is 81 per cent done.

However, according to him, the road patching has not started but will get underway "soon".

There has been no explanation as to why the $606 million budget expenditure could not cover the patching programme as indicated by Holness.

Meanwhile, the inclusion of MPs came after the Opposition criticised the Government for launching the de-bushing programme days before the November local government elections and without input from elected representatives.

The parliamentary committee has also raised questions about the selection of the five contractors for the programme.