Ja ministry under attack

The Jamaican Ministry of Transport and Works came under pressure from the Public Accounts Committee for paying $200 million to the Jamaica Public Service Company to remove old utility poles and equipment.

The ministry had paid the money to the privately-owned light and power company for the removal of old transformers and old utility poles along Segments Two and Three of the North Coast Highway.

But Tuesday the PAC questioned the legality of the payment to the JPS.

Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr. Alwin Hayles, explained that the payment was to expedite the project, which he said was being delayed by the JPS.

Dr. Hayles said while he agreed that the matter should have remained with the Attorney-General to be pursued, the cost of delays on the highway project would have been much more significant.

But according to a letter dated back to 1992, from the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the ministry was not legally bound to compensate the light and power company to remove the utility poles.