Vale Royal’s strange usage of electricity
PM’s official residence burns current despite being unoccupiedSaturday, July 02, 2016
BY JEDIAEL CARTER Staff reporter email@example.com
Despite the fact that no one lives there, electricity charges at Vale Royal racked up to over $2 million in 2015.
Vale Royal – the official residence of the Prime Minister – has not been fully occupied since the 1980s when then Prime Minister Edward Seaga and his family called it home.
Last year, roughly $7.4 million was spent by the Government to maintain the unoccupied estate located at Montrose Road in South East St Andrew.
Information received through an Access to Information request made by the Jamaica Observer revealed that utilities – electricity, water and telephone – were the estate’s greatest expenses, totalling $3,961,277.13.
THE COST FOR UTILITIES
A total of $2,729,498.44 was spent on electricity usage at Vale Royal last year. The lowest the electricity bill reached was $163,598.17 in April. In June 2015, the Government paid $474,669.02 to the Jamaica Public Service (JPS). In the previous month $352,210 was charged for electricity usage.
On the other hand, a charge of $1,022,382.90 was made by the National Water Commission to the Government for the facilities. The charges are greater as for the months of February, March, July, August, September and October no figures were provided.
The cost for this commodity ranged between $49,870.51 in December and $332,044.30 in April and May.
With service provided by Flow Jamaica, the telephone bill at Vale Royal last year was as high as $21,368.81 – the recorded figure for December. In July, however, only $3,250.38 was charged for the service.
Monthly, the Government has paid as much as $705,524 for utilities at the PM’s residence.
Since the 1980s (when it was last occupied) Jamaica has had five Prime Ministers – Michael Manley, PJ Patterson, Portia Simpson Miller, Bruce Golding and now Andrew Holness – all of whom opted to remain in their private homes while heading Government.
In the 2014/2015 financial year, the empty estate racked up a maintenance bill of $1,372,640 to cover what was described as "pool and fountain servicing", "general plumbing issues" and "general repairs".
According to the data, the pool and fountain were serviced from April to October. Water Conditioner, the contractor, charged between $31,670 and $40,890.
Under general plumbing issues, Water Plumbing – the contractor – charged as high as $84,110 to repair a problem in August.
General repairs were made by Peter Williams, Lloyd Henry and Alfrasure Construction in June and October. These contractors charged between $50,670 and $498,200. Up to $904,340 was spent in October for repairs.
STAFF AND SALARIES
Annually $2,149,153 is paid in salaries to Vale Royal employees. The statistics provided, stated that there were three persons employed – the house manager, house keeper and the house maid.
The manager is paid $1,171,161; the housekeeper $571,428; while the maid receives $460,564 annually. The housekeeper and the maid utilise posts at the estate.
Vale Royal is a two-storey building with five bedrooms. It was built in the 18th Century by Simon Taylor – one of the richest planters in the West Indies at that time.
It was bought in 1928 by the Government and became the official residence of the British Colonial Secretary then Sir Reginald Edward Stubbs. Vale Royal was refurbished in 1962 and was approved as the official residence of the Minister of Finance and Jamaica House was constructed for the home of the PM.
In 1980, Vale Royal was again refurbished and was dubbed the official residence of the Prime Minister once more. Despite this, for over a decade, the facility has only been used for state functions and ceremonies often hosted by the PM and Government officials.