Date set for re-opening of Parliamentary offices

Parliamentary offices across the country are set to re-open Monday, with more promises from the Keith Mitchell-led Administration to stamp out alleged corruption and to clean up operations.

Speaking at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing on Tuesday, Education Minister Emmalin Pierre announced that there will be sweeping changes on how government does its business at the fifteen Parliamentary offices.

The Parliamentary Representative for St Andrew South East, said government is responding to mounting complaints from the public about poor service and mismanagement at the offices.

The district offices were set up to dispense State services and resources to citizens but there has been growing public outrage over the partisan nature in which the offices operate.

Minister Pierre said a better system of supervision of staff, charged with implementing the State-funded programmes is one of the changes which will come into effect in this new cycle.

The Housing programme, which is also run out of the district offices, has been fraught with incidents of misappropriation and wastage.

While there has been sufficient suspicion of corruption to warrant police investigations, no one has been prosecuted.

Several activists of the ruling New National Party (NNP) in St. Patrick were picked up in 2017 and questioned over scam involving building material but no one was charged by the police.

There is also the well-publicized issue of persons associated with NNP receiving large amounts of construction material and other resources which they do not need.

Speculation is rife that some of the material are sold off without any proper accounting.




Minister Pierre said the new policy is that no one would receive government material until they can show they are ready to start construction.

She disclosed that a consultant was engaged to review the operations of the offices and make recommendations for improvements.

The offices have remained closed to the public since the NNP swept the polls in General Elections three months ago.

According to Minister Pierre, the delay in re-opening the offices was to facilitate the review and the hiring of staff under stricter guidelines.

It is not clear whether a lack of funding was also related to the long delay in opening the offices in light of widespread reports that the Central Government is facing a severe cash flow problem following the election.

A key programme of the government, the employment of road gangs to clean road sides, has also not started and there has been speculation that government is short of cash to pay the thousands of unemployed who are dependent on the programme.

Minister Pierre said the dry weather has made it unnecessary to clean the road sides.

A source close to the debushing programme said that the workers are expected to be out in force next month to do the clean up in time for
the August carnival festivities.

Minister Pierre announced that government is also addressing what she said are inconsistencies in the implementation and payment structures across the fifteen offices.

She cited situations such as vastly different payments being disbursed for skills that should cost the same.

Apart from what is probably a relatively small parliamentary allocation for maintaining each office, government spends millions through these offices on safety net and housing programmes for those classified as vulnerable.

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