Education money goes to road

Around $10 million of Ministry of Education funding looks set to be switched into pushing ahead with work on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway.

Finance Committee on Wednesday approved a motion which, among other things, allowed for the removal of $10.4 million from education and the addition of $7.4 million for the road and a further $2.5 million for land purchases and gazetted claims.

But Minister Arden McLean was quick to point out that provisions for education would not be adversely affected.

At the next budget it would mean that some of the budget for road provisions would have to be forgone to allow the money to be put back into education over the next three years for the building of schools and other things, he said.

There was enough money in education to make sure that the development of plans for schools would continue, he added.

Financial Secretary Kenneth Jefferson told the committee that if all 10 items that they were considering were totalled, the net effect was zero.

There was no overall increase in expenditure above what was in the existing appropriation law and there was no proposed additional borrowing, he said.

Roads Minister Mr. McLean said the government had decided to accelerate the building of the road from the Hyatt down to the former Indies Suites, and needed additional funds.

They had decided to reallocate some funding from education to get the project done as soon as possible, he told the committee.

He also said it was possible there could be some saving on the figure in question when the work was completed.

Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush said the government’s forecasts seemed to have gone awry and he felt there were other areas of need.

He moved a motion to reduce the figure under consideration by $1.5 million and to use that money for housing in Bodden Town.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said they could not accept the motion which, he said, seemed to be made with a lack of knowledge of the big picture.

He said it was not known what savings could be made on the road and they would not allocate funds for figures seemingly just plucked from the air.

Mr. McLean accused Mr. Bush of trying to derail the road. But the Opposition Leader – whose motion was defeated – said he was not trying to derail anything.

Finance Committee went on to consider the remainder of the 10 items, which included the approval of $500,000 for the Jimmy Powell Cricket Oval, $259,000 for cemetery seawalls and $301,000 for the Ministry of Works.

Minister McLean said that the last of those figures was for a new incinerator for the Department of Environmental Health and for a new lunch room at the dump, after previous buildings there were destroyed by Hurricane Ivan.

Money was being moved from the collection of disposable waste, he said, and that was money left over from the disposal of toxic ash, he added.

The motion was approved by Finance Committee and will be reported to the Legislative Assembly, which is due to resume today.

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