PEOPLE'S National Party Member of Parliament (MP), Raymond Pryce, is concerned that cynicism "start to tun up" in his North East St Elizabeth constituency, as angry labourers on Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP) projects press for wages due since March this year.
"People have not been paid since March and the cynicism start to tun up," Pryce told Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) last Wednesday.
He explained that he had become entangled in the issue and has been trying to reassure constituents, who had been visiting his office enquiring about the non-payment, that the National Works Agency (NWA) had assured him that the payments were being made.
"I do have an interest that I shall now declare that was on the ballot... It is my named being called, it is my office being visited and I am a member of the administration and I am not resiling from any of those titles," Pryce insisted.
He said that, despite his best efforts, he has failed to have the matter resolved and he has now become the subject of his constituents' "cynicism".
"The carry go bring back start full circle and mix up and blenda, and then you are told, if you slavishly hold on to the letter that it has been paid; 'well, if it paid, how come wi nuh get it? (And) If we nuh get it and yuh know it pay, then maybe a yu tek it!' Well, mi nuh tek nobody sinting," Pryce told the committee.
"So the real situation out a road, weh di dutty tuff, is that people have not been paid at the level of the labourer," he insisted.
The Government member was speaking on the prolonged issue of outstanding payments owed to Jamaican sub-contractors on the JDIP programme delaying the winding up of a number of the projects, which has been a focus of the PAAC's attention since earlier this year.
A number of MPs have said that they are under pressure from people in their constituencies who have worked as labourers on the projects, since the start of the year, and have not been paid, despite assurances form both the NWA and the main contractor China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) that payments are up to date.
Former transport and works minister, Mike Henry, has accused the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing of being responsible for the delay in the payments, and some $700 million in debt owed to the sub contractors. However, Minister Omar Davies has denied this, stating that the Government has met its commitments.
The PAAC has twice suggested that CHEC be asked to attend their meetings to clarify the issue on behalf of the Chinese investors.
The JDIP programme should have ended last December, but is still ongoing with outstanding debts owed to sub-contractors, many of whom have employed labourers recommended by their MPs. There is still no clear date when JDIP will be completed.
PRYCE... people have not been paid at the level of the labourer