Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham: Opposition Leader Perry Christie failed to use '07 constituency allowance

By Krystel Rolle ~ Guardian Staff Reporter ~

Opposition Leader Perry Christie did not use any of the $100,000 allocated by the government for projects in his Farm Road constituency in 2007/2008, according to Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.

But Christie explained that he was taking time to focus on completing necessary and effective projects.

Ingraham made the revelation on Sunday while responding to suggestions by the Progressive Liberal Party that the government would neglect Elizabeth if voters there do not elect Dr. Duane Sands as their member of Parliament next week.

"We continue to demonstrate that we don't do work in constituencies because of who [the constituents] support," said Ingraham during a news conference on Sunday.

"In fact, in some constituencies where we made monies available like $100,000 for the MPs to decide on what should be done in the constituency, people like Mr. Perry Christie in the first year didn't spend any of the money at all. He determined in the first year that there wasn't anything to be done while others like Yamacraw [MP Melanie Griffin] and St. Cecilia [Cynthia 'Mother' Pratt] overspent because they figured they had needs in their constituency to be dealt with."

Yesterday, Christie admitted that he took longer to spend his constituency allowance than others did, but he said it was not because there was no work to be done in that area.

Christie said that during the year in question, his constituency office was planning how best it could use the allowance.

He said plans are now in place to expand three parks in his constituency and to add bathroom facilities in at least two of the parks.

He said both the Hay Street park and the Sunlight Village park are heavily used and do not have bathrooms. The Fowler Street park needs to be expanded, he said.

Christie said he has asked the government to acquire adjoining property to make it larger, and to completely refurbish the park.

He said the work is extensive and would cost more than the $100,000 allowance.

"If he's saying that I didn't use the money as quickly as some of the other MPs, he's probably dead right," said Christie, who added that by planning what he would do more thoroughly he probably used the money more efficiently.

"I don't know what Ingraham was intending to achieve by making that announcement but my sense was that I had to somehow expand the parks and I'm doing that."

Christie said the Ministry of Works recently acknowledged that its employees visited the site and took measurements of the parks. It has also been acknowledged that the bids went out to complete the work, Christie added.

The government also allocated $100,000 in fiscal year 2008/2009 to each MP for projects in the various constituencies.

February 09, 2010