MP says thieves registered as farmers
Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
Lawmakers yesterday struggled to maintain their composure after one of their colleagues declared during the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) meeting, that praedial larcenists have joined the ranks of the 166,000 Jamaican farmers.
Member of Parliament for Western St Mary Jolyan Silvera said criminals have been registered under the Government's flagship Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP).
The Government legislator caused a stir in Gordon House when he revealed that the exercise to register farmers under JEEP was violated as criminals had hijacked the process.
He explained that by getting registered the praedial larcenists have now become registered criminals.
PAAC Chairman Edmund Bartlett said the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) needs to do an audit of the 166 farmers to determine who is legitimate.
However, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Donovan Stanberry sought to defend the registration process saying it is accompanied by verification activities.
He said even if a thief was registered that person would fail the verification process.
According to Stanberry the IDs are only issued on verification.
Executive director of RADA Lenworth Fulton told PAAC members that he would conduct his own investigation into the matter.
RADA has been asked to return next week where the agency is expected to provide a schedule of real farmers.
The Ministry of Agriculture says at least 8,000 more farmers are to be registered under JEEP this year.
The total number is expected to increase to 180,000 by the end of the year.
WATCH: ERICA'S EDGE ... Mandela quarrel is downright dirty