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KINGSTON – It is estimated that a total of $33 million has been spent to cover the cost of the Manatt/Coke Commission of Enquiry, which is being held at the Jamaica Conference Centre.

This was disclosed by Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, as he answered questions raised by Opposition Member of Parliament for Central Kingston, Ronald Thwaites, on Tuesday March 29 in the House of Representatives.

Mr. Golding said given that the deadline for completion of the enquiry, originally set for the end of February, has been twice extended, the last such extension being

May 16, 2011, it is estimated that the additional cost will be in the region of $21 million.

In addition, the Prime Minister informed that Cabinet has also approved an amount of $24.1 million for legal representation of several public officials, excluding the Prime Minister.

Mr. Golding, who is being represented by Hugh Small, Q.C. at the Commission, told the Lower House that he has taken a personal decision that the cost of his legal representation would not be borne by the taxpayers of Jamaica.

In the meantime, he told the Lower House that the final cost of the enquiry to the public purse cannot be determined until it is concluded.

Asked whether the legal fees of $24.1 million for the representation of public officials is likely to increase given the extensions, Mr. Golding said he could not give a definite answer as “some of the lawyers, who are acting for some public officials, have not yet submitted their bills.”

“Although their fee rates have been agreed, the actual statements have not been submitted. I am aware of some payments that have been made for some of the officials, who were represented. The payments that have been made so far, are relatively small in relation to that $24.1 million; but it is almost impossible to say until the hours are calculated and the bills are submitted what the final costs will be,” the Prime Minister said.

                                                           

By LATONYA LINTON, JIS Reporter