Patrick Wong, the former National Works Agency (NWA) head, has defended the decision to spend $116 million of the Jamaica Infrastructure Development Programme (JDIP) money to refurbish its offices in 2011 despite no provision for this expenditure in the contract.
The NWA had explained the spending as "institutional strengthening" but the forensic auditors reported that there was no provision for this in either the JDIP contract or the JDIP loan agreement.
The auditors also questioned the methodology chosen by the NWA to effect renovations, purchase of vehicles and the purchase of computer equipment.
But Wong last week told The Sunday Gleaner that the NWA office had to be repaired because it was in shambles.
He argued that $60 million of the $116 million was spent to erect workstations.
"As the CEO, we provided the furniture for the staff because they needed proper tools to implement the programme, so I have no regrets whatsoever," declared Wong.
"It has been more than 50 years that the building was not repaired. It's a 61,000-square foot building. We had toilets in there that the staff refused to sit on, we had roofs leaking, we had broken tiles, we did not have enough space even as we had to take on in excess of 60 more engineers."
Wong said the refurbishing had to be done because the NWA did not have the capacity to take on the programme.
"I sat down with all my directors and identified all the additional human resources that they were going to need, what the additional physical resources were, in terms of computers and printers that would be needed, so we could generate the type of report and the certification that is required by this programme," said Wong.
"I got tired of walking on the water, I am not God and so I had no choice but to resign," added Wong.
"I think it was grossly unfair and unjust ... we were under continuous pressure by all and sundry and we were trying to hold the pieces together," he asserted.
Turning to his sudden, though not unexpected departure from the NWA, Wong said he was not unceremoniously booted as had been reported last November.
"I took the decision that because of the political football between both sides, because we were being pressured on both sides, as everybody wanted their projects done going into the elections."
But Wong conceded that he was given marching orders by then Minister of Transport and Works Mike Henry as the pressure mounted in the wake of a report into the operations of the JDIP by the auditor general.
"I was asked to resign by the minister, but I could have said to him no because I had already informed him that I was not going to renew my contract."