Education Minster clarifies spending for canteen refurbishing


Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, has clarified that the Ministry spent approximately $11 million to renovate and equip its canteen and not $27 million as was claimed in a recent CVM television report.
At a press conference today (November 1) at the Office of the Prime, the Minister sought to correct the error on the part of the media house and to appeal to journalists on the whole, to be more responsible about reporting information garnered through the Access to Information Act.
“I am constrained to make corrections where errors have been made, particularly in light of the fact that we are in a low trust environment. When these errors are made, the corrections, apologies and the retractions will never undo the damage it has done but still, we must do everything in our power to ensure that the facts are placed before the nation, and hope that the media houses will go to the same level of effort to ensure that the errors are corrected,” he said.
He stated that the government fully supports the Access to Information law and “we will provide information as requested, within the boundaries of the law, to anyone who the law gives legal standing to.”
“We welcome CVM’s investigative journalism on the expenditure of taxpayer’s money in this time when we face serious financial difficulties; no one can fault the media for keeping public servants and politicians on their toes in terms of making the right priorities in public expenditure,” he added.
Giving details of the expenditure for the refurbishing of the canteen, the Education Minister told journalists that the initial contract sum was $18.4 million but adjustments were made in light of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement and only $11 million was actually spent.
“When the contract was issued initially for $18.4 million we were just about to enter into IMF negotiations and I took the decision that this contract should be revised,” he said.
“The end result of that decision is that only $4.8 million was spent on refurbishing the canteen, not $27 million,” he said, noting that $6 million went towards the purchasing of equipment to make the canteen operational to bring the total to $11 million.
The Education Minister further explained that there was a $1.1 million subsidiary contract for electrical works for the Ministry, and not specifically for the canteen.
He also clarified the suggestion in the news report that there was an allocation for protection.
“The report showed something called protection, another innuendo is cast when that is said we are not talking about protection money. Protection in the bill of quantities was $40,000 and it simply means to allow for keeping of works including that of subcontractors, clean and free from injury during the execution of their work, to allow for providing all necessary temporary gutters, rain water pipes tarpaulins and all coverings necessary to protect walling and other work during inclement weather,” he explained.

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