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MINISTERS CLASH OVER FUNDS FOR “JAMAICA 50!”

BY BALFORD HENRY—–

JAMAICA 50 passions overflowed inside Gordon House yesterday as the Standing Finance Committee’s (SFC) review of the 2012/2013 Estimates exploded into a shouting match over projects and expenditure.

It was the worst performance from the SFC, which comprises all 63 members of Parliament close to the end of its final and most productive day of meeting.

LISA HANNA and OLIVIA GRANGE

 

The uproar began shortly after former minister and current Opposition spokesperson on youth, sports and culture, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, started questioning Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna on statements surrounding the previous Administration’s programme for Jamaica 50 and its cost.

Grange asked the minister how she arrived at the $2.5-billion figure, which has been promulgated as the cost of the programme prepared by the former minister to celebrate Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of Independence.

Hanna responded that the figure was calculated based on the projects identified by the previous minister. Government MPs shouted that the questions were unnecessary, and suggested that Grange seek details from the minister outside of the SFC.

“The minister does need the assistance from her colleagues… The media was told of a $2.5-billion programme and it needs to be corrected,” Grange insisted.

“This is an ex-parte matter. It has nothing to do with what we are doing here,” Government MP Raymond Pryce shouted.

“I am not here to be antagonistic or for

one-upmanship… I am here to protect my reputation

and defend the work of the previous Administration,” Grange reacted.

As the shouts and crosstalk continued, Hanna offered to send the Opposition spokesperson “all the details”. However, Grange insisted that it was important to clear the air on the $2.5-billion figure.

As the shouts continued across the aisle, acting chairman of the committee, Lloyd B Smith — the Deputy Speaker of the House — asked the Government MPs to be “a little less strident, and to allow the minister to answer the questions. “I think the

minister is quite capable of answering the questions,” the chairman commented.

Hanna said she had no problem answering the questions. She added that information from the Jamaica 50 Secretariat were “pieces of documentation”, some of which were inadequate for planning. This was followed by the decision to replace then director, Lenford Salmon, with current director, Robert Bryan.

The minister said that the Cabinet had not been informed about the programme, but the Opposition spokesperson said this was not true and suggested that the Government was not being honest and fair in the matter.

This triggered another round of shouts, at which time the chairman ruled that the matter had been sufficiently aired and brought that aspect of the review to an end.

 

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-Jamaica-50–clash-at-Gordon-House_11490981#ixzz1v7Pn0V6U

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Filed under: GUEST RUNDOWNS

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