Excess without shame

Thursday, December 06, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Reading the news these days sometimes take a lot of guts and stamina.

First, reports broke about the exorbitant cost of the 'Welcome to Montego Bay' sign, reportedly costing $17 million. Funded by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), the explanation given in a release is that the sign will be “an attraction of First World proportion... a tropical contemporary interpretation of a traditional resort along a bay”.

The press release was almost laughable, trying to imagine a First World sign in a Third World country, where public sector workers fight relentlessly for wage increases, where hospitals don't even have enough beds for patients, where poverty rates continue to rise. The old sign was simple and iconic; a beautiful sign damaged by a car accident. The sign could've been replaced at a fraction of the cost.

Just recently the Auditor General's Department (AGD) released findings of costs incurred to host two surprise parties for former Minister of Energy Andrew Wheatley and former chair of Petrojam Perceval Bahado-Singh. The approved price tag surpassed US$21,747 for lavish parties held just three months apart and shows the disdain that some have for those who put them in office. The AGD deemed the parties to be personal and private and having nothing to do with Petrojam's operations. There were findings about two contracts valued close to $40 million for anniversary celebrations which breached procurement guidelines.

I don't know if any of this relates to the prosperity promised by the current Government. This is not only madness, it is insulting to the psyche of Jamaicans; it may even be criminal. Elected and appointed officials are not given a free pass to do as they please. These positions come with full accountability and responsibility and they should be reminded of this. They wouldn't do it if they didn't think they could get away with it.

We must punish and shame those who overstep their authority and boundaries without any concern for the taxpayers who end up footing the bill with the country's limited resources. Those who approved the lavish cake should be forced to pay for the treat. End of story!

P Chin


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