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Young Mr Brown slams Gleaner

Published:Wednesday | March 21, 2012 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

It is public knowledge that The Gleaner is engaged in a crusade against the Community (sic) Development Fund (CDF). The basis of its objection is that it is pork - government funds for projects designed to win votes.

The Gleaner's editorial of March 19, 2012, 'Young Mr Brown discovers pork', is quite uncharitable.

I reject the editorial's caricature of me as being the week's "en passant, obligatory bad example".

At no time did I, in person, submit any invoices for projects. Invoices which were submitted were done so by service providers to the Social Development Commission (SDC), the implementing agency for the projects.

Where the error was made is that those invoices were addressed to the member of parliament as opposed to the SDC or East Central St Catherine constituency. The invoices which were submitted were approved and stamped by the SDC for forward passage on to the CDF.

Correct procedures

As a new MP, I took it upon myself to sit with the CDF Unit to ascertain the correct procedures in order to avoid the very situation which is now unfolding. It appears to me that there was some misunderstanding between the CDF and the SDC as it pertains to procedure, as my team was told squarely by the SDC that the request made of them to develop a budget for the project submitted was not the remit of the SDC.

In any event, the projects identified were standard and done in consultation with the CDF. I was, therefore, surprised to learn from previous stories carried by The Gleaner that Pauline Scott Blair "reported" me to Parliament, especially in light of the fact that she ought to have known that requests for invoices must not be directed to the MP.

Clearly, there are deficiencies in effectively communicating what the proper procedures are, rather than errant politicians running amok. The public must be disabused of the view that all politicians enter the political fray to feather their own nest or that of friends.

It is the aversion which The Gleaner has towards the CDF why it has set its face firmly against the fund. In the instant case, I reject any implication that there was any attempt to misuse or misdirect public funds for political outcomes.

I am an unapologetic advocate for more funds to be provided to the CDF so that the elected representative(s) can bring about meaningful change in their constituency. There are sufficient checks and balances in place to ensure that abuse doesn't take place.

ARNALDO BROWN

MP, East Central St Catherine