JIS News

The Government of Jamaica has asked Auditor General, Adrian Strachan, to conduct an audit of all expenditure incurred in respect to the Light Bulb Distribution Project, under which some 4 million fluorescent bulbs were to be provided to Jamaican households by local and Cuban volunteers.
“The matter requires the most thorough investigation,” Minister of Energy, Mining and Telecommunications, Clive Mullings said in a statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday (Oct. 23).
Mr. Mullings told the Lower House that more than $114 million has already been paid out for the implementation of the project, through the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica. Of the total amount, he said, $85.6 million was paid to a company called Universal Management and Development Company Limited for various services purported to be connected with the implementation of the project. “The services for which Universal Management and Development Company Limited was paid were not tendered and no evidence can be found of any contract having been awarded to this company in relation to the project. Payments were made on presentation of itinerant invoices,” Mr. Mullings said.
In addition, the Minister said $3.3 million was paid to another company called Caribbean Communications and Media Network Limited.
Mr. Mullings said that subsequent to these payments being made, additional invoices totalling more than $162 million were submitted and these invoices, if paid, would bring the total expenditure, not including expenses financed through Members of Parliament for the Social and Economic Support Programme, to $276.5 million.
In addition to the investigation by the Auditor General, Contractor General, Greg Christie has been asked to look into the circumstances under which “huge payments were made to these two companies, without the required procurement procedures being followed,” as disclosed by the Minister.
Attorney General, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, has also been asked to advise whether letters written by then State Minister Kern Spencer, detailing the entities and amounts owed by the PCJ, and advising the creditors that their invoices had been verified, confirmed and would be honoured, constitute an acceptance of the invoices and a binding commitment on the part of the government to make the payments.
In the meantime, the Minister said that no further payment will be made until the investigations are completed and a decision made by the Cabinet.
The Light Bulb Distribution Project originated through the generosity of the Government of Cuba, which undertook to provide Jamaica with 4 million fluorescent bulbs free of cost. A condition of the gift stipulated by the Cuban Government was that the bulbs must be provided to householders at all income levels free of cost.