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Opposition senators tackle corruption allegations in Education Ministry

 
Debate on the Appropriations Bill in the Senate was on Friday overshadowed by the corruption allegations hanging over the Andrew Holness Administration.
 
Making his contribution, Opposition Senator K.D. Knight declared that the government must go.
 
Noting that corruption scandals have plagued several governments over the years, he said it is time for such practices to end. 
 
"Those who are politicians/public officers must take their sticky fingers off people's money! They come boasting about that which is available to a Ministry to be expended for the people, expended on behalf of the people, and they believe that they can appropriate to themselves money which belongs to the people," Mr. Knight chided.  
 
Senator Lambert Brown continued in a similar vein, pointing out that while the matter being debated was the Appropriations Bill, it is becoming too easy for politicians to misappropriate public funds. 
 
"The taxpayers' money must not be misappropriated and those who do so must face the utimate sanction of imprisonment," he charged. 
 
He noted that three politicians have gone to prison for corruption in the past.
 
But Senator Brown had several questions in relation to allegations surrounding the Ministry of Education and the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU).
 
"Are there relatives of the former minister and staff at CMU? When were these persons hired and what are the qualifications for the position that they are in?" he asked. 
 
He also questioned whether there are any personal staff members of the former minister being paid by CMU or any entity associated with the CMU, whether there are any spouses of JLP Members of Parliament employed at the Ministry of Education or any agency that reports to the Ministry of Education and what was the process for hiring them. 
 
But Government Senator Aubyn Hill grew impatient, chiding his opposition colleagues for not focusing on the Appropriations Bill. 
 
"We're gonna talk about a bill that is giving back $14 billion to Jamaicans and it is not about corruption. Because I sit here today, and listening to this you would think that we're in here not to discuss a bill but to talk about corruption. As I sit here and listen, and I've watched governments over the years, it is easier to identify corruption when you're in opposition than when you're in government."  
 
"But you know something, what I've noticed is that Andrew Holness has decided that this time, in this administration, he is going to act differently," he asserted. 
 
RJR News has received a copy of a letter from an entity identified as the Ruel Reid Education and Help Foundation which appears to have been established to seek donations for needy children and families in St. Andrew and St. Ann.
 
The letter, which was purportedly signed by Mr. Reid, seeks a $500,000 contribution from unidentified individuals for what it says are education and welfare activities including lunch, bus fare, medical and school supplies and scholarships.
 
The directors of the foundation are listed as Senator Ruel Reid, Sharelle Reid, Sharen Thomas-Reid and Fritz Pinnock.
 


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