Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
ST AUBYN BARTLETT, member of parliament for Eastern St Andrew, who on Tuesday unequivocally supported claims by Everald Warmington that media reports on the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) were inaccurate and should be construed as "gutterism", last week described some projects under the billion-dollar programme as "creng creng".
The term 'creng creng' is used in Jamaican parlance to describe a container for preserving meat, particularly pork, over a fireplace.
The Gleaner obtained a copy of the official verbatim report of the committee's proceedings (Hansard), in which the members' comments have been placed on record.
October 12 meeting
Bartlett's pronouncements came during the October 12 CDF meeting, the last held behind closed doors.
Members of the media for the first time were allowed to cover the CDF committee meeting this past Tuesday.
The CDF committee's first meeting was held in June 2008.
The eastern St Andrew MP had responded to comments by CDF committee member Derrick Kellier, who urged his colleagues to open the committee to the media, seeing that it was the third year of the programme and the committee should by now have passed the "teething stage".
Said Bartlett: "I heard what the member said about the initial teething pain. I would not want to say that we are over that period of the teething pain because I myself, I have some concerns of, you know, what the media are saying and what some members seem to be actually putting before us for approval."
He added: "Because some of the projects that are coming before us, when you look deep into those projects, they smack of what they (media) are talking about. The 'creng creng' - food and those sorts of things."
Bartlett's designation of projects that were presented for approval by some MPs drew the ire of director of the CDF unit, Moveta Munroe.
"I really take umbrage to that statement," Munroe declared.
East Central St Catherine MP Natalie Neita-Headley was also seemingly agitated by the remark, charging that Bartlett's comments suggested that the work of the CDF and parliamentary committee "is soiled (and) stained". She called for the statement to be struck from the records.
Warmington called for Bartlett to withdraw the comment.
"No, I am not going to withdraw it," Bartlett insisted.
"I am not going to recognise you then," Warmington retorted.
Amid the banging gavel of the chairman, as he sought to silence Bartlett, the Eastern St Andrew MP stated: "But the only reason why the press is going on the way they are going on is because what they are talking about, some of it look quite obvious."
Expressing disappointment with Bartlett's comments, Munroe said: "I am deeply hurt by it. And I think I speak on behalf of the unit."
However, Munroe said the operational procedures and guidelines of the CDF were now being revised with the Ministry of Finance.
Discussing why the revision was necessary, Munroe told the committee that "There are certain projects that have come here, and we have thought them in the best interest of constituents, we have proceeded with them but, on advice from the Solicitor General's office, we have been told that we are out of line."
Said Munroe: "I think, too, Mr Chairman, in terms of projects that have come here, the category that is most disturbing is economic enablement. And the auditor general speaks to it very clearly in her report. Well, I will have to draw from it because in a number of instances economic enablement is seen as a wanton waste of taxpayers' money."
Attempting to soothe tempers from his earlier utterances, Bartlett sought to tender an apology to the staff of the CDF Unit.
"I am saying that if the unit feels hurt by what I have said, I will apologise to them but what I am saying is that we as members of this committee come in here and sit, and some of the comments that we make, if the press was here, they would have a field day with what we are thinking," Bartlett stated.
'Some of the projects that are coming before us ... they smack of what they (media) are talking about.'
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