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Finance ministry mum on $1m phone bill discount

Published:Monday | July 24, 2017 | 10:04 AM

The Finance Ministry says it will not given any more details at this time on the role of its staff in the phone-bill scandal involving Finance Minister, Audley Shaw.

The ministry also says it will not speak about the $1 million discount that was negotiated with a phone company.

Shaw has been facing criticisms for racking up a phone bill of approximately $8.3 million for the one-year period March, 2016 to February, 2017. 

The bill included $1.5 million for August, $4.2 million for October and $840,000 for December. 

In the revelation, made by Television Jamaica, Financial Secretary, Everton McFarlane explained that the sizes of the bills were not brought to Shaw's attention until March when the media request was made for the information.

Since then, there have been questions about the processes at the ministry including how bills are signed off and how the growing monthly charges escaped the attention of the staff.

In response to queries from The Gleaner/Power 106 News Centre, the ministry advised that at an appropriate time, it will disclose more information.

According to a statement released by director of communication and public relations, Elaine Oxamendi Vicet, the ministry has no further comments on the issue of the closed user group (CUG) charges at this time.

She also pointed to the policy review of  CUG operations ordered by the Prime Minister, Andrew Holness.

Holness said Shaw's bill was unacceptable but did not address concerns about the finance minister's negotiations with the service provider to get a one million discount.

Head of Corporate Communications at FLOW, Kayon Wallace has confirmed that  Cable & Wireless Business Jamaica is the service provider for the finance ministry.