Tuesday 24 November, 2020

Weekend flooding raises question about gov’t $800M cleaning programme

The government’s $800M bushing and drain-cleaning programme was again thrust into the spotlight with the flooding on the weekend of communities in 10 parishes across the island.

The flooding has so far cost an estimated $491.8M in infrastructural damage which is expected to climb when a fulsome assessment is completed in days ahead. The assessment will include loss of crop and livestock, among other things.

In Parliament Tuesday, Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie blamed the flooding chiefly on inadequate drainage systems and said efforts would be made to rectify the problem.

Later during his contribution in the Sectoral Debate, Phillip Paulwell, Leader of Opposition Business in the House, raised the issue of the controversial cleaning exercise that was rolled out ahead of the November 2016 Local Government Election.

“Government resources were allocated along partisan lines and without consultation with the duly elected representatives of the people,” he said. “In fact, Mr Speaker, with the recent flooding across large parts of the island, the people are asking if the drains were cleaned at all.”

Paulwell said this “recent blatant partisan allocation of state resources and lack of consultation with the people’s representatives is not good governance”.

In fact, he called it an example of “poor governance”.

He also described the “unfair allocation of funds for Labour Day activities with Government MPs given more funds than Opposition MPs”, and the $3 billion road rehabilitation programme, “which was rolled out recently [and] benefits mainly JLP MPs” as other examples of poor governance.

Paulwell said that only two PNP-led constituencies were allocated funding for road work under this programme.

“As the Leader of Opposition Business, I am troubled by the continuation of the practice of distributing state resources along party lines,” Paulwell said.

He added: “Not only does it reflect a corrupt distribution of tax-payers’ money, but the practice takes us back to the dark and dangerous days of victimisation and political tribalism. Jamaica has come too far from those days and our people will not allow you to take us back there.”


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