After exhausting $30 million in a 12-month period on the Cuban light bulb programme, the then energy ministry went back to the State-owned Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) for an additional US$2.3 million (J$159 million at the time) to complete the implementation of the project.
That was the evidence yesterday from former PCJ Group Managing Director Dr Ruth Potopsingh, who testified that the request for the additional funds came even though the energy ministry had failed to comply with PCJ's request for a project plan along with a budget showing how the $30 million would have been allocated.
Despite this, however, Dr Potopsingh, who was testifying at the corruption trial involving former Junior Minister Kern Spencer, said the PCJ board met in July 2007 and voted to give the ministry $60 million out of the $159 million it had requested.
Again, the former PCJ executive said she wrote to the then Ministry of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce requesting "a breakdown of the expenses in respect of the $60 million".
This time, however, Potopsingh said she got a response from Reginald Budhan, who was then a senior official in the energy ministry.
The light bulb programme was introduced in 2006 and involved the distribution of four million free compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) islandwide. The CFLs were donated to Jamaica by the Cuban government.
Spencer and his former personal assistant, Colleen Wright, are on trial for illicit enrichment and money laundering arising from implementation of the programme.
Potopsingh gave evidence that after a limited introduction in then Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell's East Kingston and Port Royal constituency, Paulwell announced that the programme was being expanded to the entire island.
She said in July 2006, she got a letter from Spencer indicating that he was the person responsible for the programme, including the islandwide distribution of the CFLs.
PAULWELL SOUGHT SUPPORT
The former PCJ Group managing director testified that after Spencer's letter, Paulwell wrote to the chairman of the State-owned company seeking "support to fund the project".
That's when Potopsingh said the PCJ board of directors approved the $30 million for the project.
She testified that she wrote to the ministry, copying Spencer and Permanent Secretary Dr Jean Dixon, to indicate that since "the project has been expanded, it would be necessary to put in place a plan and a budget, so the PCJ would know how the resources would be allocated".
"When you wrote that letter, did you receive any response?" lead prosecutor Paula Llewellyn asked.
"No," Potopsingh replied.
However, she gave evidence that by July 2007 the funds had been "fully used up on the project".
This prompted Senior Resident Magistrate Judith Pusey to ask, "How would you know that?"
"I had a printout of the expenses from the accounts department," Potopsingh responded.
She will continue giving evidence when the trial continues today.