JAMAICA Labour Party Member of Parliament for West Kingston Desmond McKenzie has accused the National Works Agency (NWA) of “nepotism” after learning that only $300,000 has been allocated for mitigation efforts in that constituency.
National Works Agency (NWA) Deputy Chief Executive Officer Earl Patterson told a meeting of the Infrastructure and Physical Development Committee of Parliament at Gordon House Thursday that Kingston has been allocated $6 million for mitigation efforts; St Andrew $1.5 million; St Catherine $5.5 million; and St Thomas $1.25 million.
However, the breakdown of that $6 million is what caused the MP’s ire to spill over.
“Let me speak in a selfish way. All major outlets in Kingston and St Andrew end in my constituency, with the exception of the Sandy Gully. What is the programme of mitigation for the Corporate Area in general where everything exits into the Kingston Harbour?” McKenzie querried.
“You are spending $1 million at Majesty Gardens and there is no gully in Majesty to be spending $1 million on. How was this figure arrived at?” McKenzie demanded of the NWA deputy CEO.
“This is victimisation and I am not withdrawing it,” the visibly upset West Kingston member of parliament said.
Patterson, who told the committee that the NWA had approved an overall budget of $31 million for mitigation for the entire island for this year, said the amount requested was not facilitated. “We certainly could do with more; what we are endeavouring to do is the best with what we have,” he said, adding that the NWA had scaled back its request to $200 million but still only got $31 million.
“Thirty-one million dollars, without question, is not going to do a lot [but] if the need arises we will have to approach the Ministry of Finance,” said the NWA official.
“What I am not trying to defend is that member McKenzie is far more deserving of far more resources, but the constraints (are such). What I would like to propose is that the Infrastructure Committee decide where it wants to put the concentration year-in year-out,” Patterson continued.
The West Kingston MP would, however, have none of that.
“I don’t buy that. The NWA goes about doing the assessment; it is not this committee that sets those terms of reference, you know the exit points and all the sensitive points and out of $6 million you are spending $300,000 on a gully that runs east to west,” he protested, interrupting Patterson in mid-sentence.
“That is victimisation and I make no apologies, nepotism!” McKenzie said.
Interim Committee Chair Karl Samuda, in attempting to soothe the situation, suggested that the NWA conduct a factual review to see what work, if any, had begun and report to the committee. Patterson had been unable to confirm whether work had begun in West Kingston or how much of the allocation was already disbursed.