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Burke questions Labour Day project allocations to MPs

Published:Sunday | May 22, 2016 | 12:00 AM

People's National Party (PNP) General Secretary Paul Burke has dispatched a letter to the prime minister seeking an explanation for what he describes as the inequitable distribution of funds for Labour Day activities.

In the letter dated May 22, Burke made reference to Prime Minister Andrew Holness' inaugural speech in which he committed to a governance of partnership.

"Mr Prime Minister, I must, therefore, strongly protest the blatant discrimination and victimisation in terms of the allocations to members of parliament who are members of the PNP for their Labour Day projects," stated Burke.

He was referencing revelations that the Government had tapped the Tourism Product Development Company for $54.65 million, which it has allocated to all 63 members of parliament, with government members receiving the lion's share.

Burke stressed that PNP members are mandated not only to represent PNP supporters, but all their constituents, without discrimination and or victimisation.

Burke declared that this 'trust' had been breached.

For example, he questioned how North East St Andrew, the smallest constituency in Jamaica in terms of electors (19,131) and one of the wealthiest in terms of the personal income of its residents, could get more than twice as much as Central Westmoreland, one of the largest, with five divisions (41,817 electors), and one of the poorest in terms of the personal income of its residents.

In urging the prime minister to explain the rationale, Burke stated: "After seeing these allocations, I would want to believe that you would be embarrassed, would wish to correct this situation immediately, and will publicly sanction whoever was responsible for this travesty and mockery to your pledge at your 'swearing-in ceremony'."

Asserting that he confidently expected Holness to do what is right, Burke said he had been advised b Kingston Mayor Angela Brown Burke that the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation had allocated $400,000 to all councillors, equally across the board, for their 2016 Labour Day projects, irrespective of their political allegiance, and that this has been the consistent practice since she assumed leadership of the administration in 2012.