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Bartlett to probe TEF distribution

Published:Tuesday | May 24, 2016 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding

Prime Minister Andrew Holness disclosed yesterday that he has mandated Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett to undertake a comprehensive probe into the use and execution of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).

"I have asked the minister of tourism, who has given me a preliminary report on the matter, to do a detailed study on the distribution of funds from the Tourism Enhancement Fund and for us to make that report public," said Holness.

The prime minister's instruction has come in response to complaints by opposition members that there was no parity in funds allocated for Labour Day expenditures in the 63 constituencies.

"I want to make it absolutely clear that I, as prime minister, and this Government, will not tolerate partisan distribution of public funds," Holness told the House of Representatives during his contribution to the 2016-2017 Budget Debate yesterday.

The Sunday Gleaner reported that with the exception of Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller, all other members of the Opposition were apportioned $600,000 each.


Opposition press conference


The Opposition also stepped up its protest with a press conference yesterday.

Members of parliament of the governing party got more than $30 million of the $50 million.

"I have heard about the report, but I have not seen it," said Holness.

But he said that he was aware of the complaints by opposition members that they received disproportionately less for Labour Day projects.

"What is being suggested is that it is only since this Government that partisan distribution has happened," said Holness.

"The minister explained to me that there will be a correction, so we will ensure that no constituency is deprived," he added.

Holness said he would be moving to ensure that this does not become the narrative.

He also promised the establishment of a joint parliamentary committee to determine how these funds are distributed among members.