July 21, 2015
Building materials are not for political bribes – PM Gonsalves

The building materials ordered by Government from Jamaica are not being used as political bribes.

This is according to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who was responding to a question posed at a press conference last week, following accusations by Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace that the Unity Labour Party had allocated $10 million for the purchase of building materials from a Jamaican company, which would be used as political bribes.{{more}}

According to Gonsalves, only $4.5 million was allocated to be spent on building materials from Jamaican firm Tankweld to supplement materials that were already bought for various government housing programmes, but were being used up quickly.

“We had ordered and had delivered roughly EC$5 million worth of material last year December. Those materials, I told you then, were for Lives to Live. Those materials were also for residue from [Hurricane] Tomas (in 2010) and from the April [2011] floods and that some of those materials, a limited amount for other persons who want assistance of material from time to time; over and above $750,000 of material you may get from public assistance programme,” he said.

Gonsalves said because of the demands made by the Lives to Live programme and a backlog from Hurricane Tomas and the April floods, Minister of Housing Montgomery Daniel had indicated that they were running out of certain items such as steel, cement, and plywood.

“…We are running out of some timber. I said to him, prepare a list for me of additional materials that you may require, given the programme in which you as minister deal with.”

Gonsalves, who is the Minister of Finance, noted that when he received the list, he was able to order over $4 million worth of materials from Tankweld. He added that he is currently negotiating a system of payment.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister stated that payments for the materials bought last year were funded by PetroCaribe and this is reflected in the 2015 Budget.

“What you hear he (Eustace) talking about there is trying to in advance, set up an excuse for when he loses the election,” Gonsalves quipped.

“This is the third time so far that we have gotten money from Tankweld, a firm in Jamaica. We have a relationship with Tankweld. I know the people personally.”(BK)