Members of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) are urging capital building after more than J$6 billion budgeted for capital projects in the financial year 2022/ 2023 were returned due to procurement issues.
The committee sat on Tuesday (February 28) after the tabling of the fourth supplementary estimate of expenditure by Minister of Finance Dr Nigel Clarke.
Chairman of the meeting, Mikael Phillips expressed concern that there was J$6.5 billion that was budgeted for capital projects for 2022/2023 that was not spent.
From the J$6.5 billion, Phillips stated that the Ministry of Health returned J$ 1.25 billion, while the Ministry of Education returned J$626 million designated for primary and secondary infrastructure. A total of $789 million designated for energy management and efficiency was also not spent.
“There seems to be some gap in how it is that these programmes are added to the budget and the delay in implementation in these programs and my understanding is that the Public Investment Management Secretariat (PIMSEC) was supposed to help to streamline these programmes,” said Phillips.
He added that it is concerning that of the J$889 million budgeted for school infrastructure, a third of the money was being returned when schools are suffering from leaky roofs and poor infrastructure.
Tova Hamilton, Member of Parliament (MP) of the Trelawny Northern constituency, stated that the delay in capital projects is often due to procurement issues and suggested a review of the guidelines to stop the further delay of projects. Hamilton noted that the guidelines were last reviewed in 2014.
Darlene Morrison, financial secretary for the Ministry of Finance, shared that the money was not spent due to procurement issues and the government will work to improve the procurement process.
She noted that the guidelines are up to international standards, but capital building is needed in terms of procurement.
“If it is a matter of capacity building then it needs to be done urgently because it is hampering government and the execution of funds that come in a budget. It is a crisis proportion now,” stressed Phillips.
Sharing the same sentiments were Lisa Hanna, MP for St Ann South Eastern, and her counterpart representative of St Catherine North East, Kerensia Morrison, who said that a lack of implementation of these projects will cause the public to view the government and their members of Parliament as insufficient.
Morrison added that she believes the government is taking on too many projects at once and it is not efficient if the projects are not carried out in a timely manner.
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