Ashworth: THA has $$ to build RC School
Monday, September 17 2012
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Rooftop view: A man views from a rooftop a community meeting held by the Police Service at the John John basketball court in Laventille last Friday....
Minority Leader in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Ashworth Jack has described as “preposterous”, Secretary of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport, Whitney Alfred’s claim that the THA does not have $30 million to build the new Scarborough Roman Catholic Primary School.
Jack, speaking last week, disclosed budgetary allocations from Central Government between 2005 and 2012 amounted to an estimated $15 million for the construction of the school. He gave the breakdown of figures as: 2005 — $1 million; 2006 — $500,000; 2007 – $500,000; 2009 - $986, 681; 2010 – $400,000; 2011 - $10 million; 2012 - $2 million.
He said over the past two years, the THA was budgeted its largest allocation of $12 million and claimed they had done nothing with the money. “The cry has been made for that school to be housed in a new building a very long time ago since the conditions had been almost deplorable and worsening in the more recent times,” Jack said in a press conference at NIB Mall, Scarborough.
He said he was well aware of the situation since his children went to school there, as do the children of Chief Secretary Orville London, whose wife is the vice-principal.
Since 2004, he said, the THA had announced the construction of the new school in Smithfield, Lower Scarborough, just around the vicinity of Mt Marie. “That is why requests were made for money which subsequently was allocated from 2005,” Jack said.
He indicated that a cost for construction can only be arrived at after all the designs are completed and there is a quantity surveyors’ report, and said he hoped the education secretary quoted figures based on completed designs.
He went on to question that if the BOLT (build, own, lease, transfer) arrangement “is so wonderful” as defended by the THA administration, why wasn’t it used for the construction of the school. “The Victor E Bruce Financial Complex cost $103 million and only got $8 million from the Central Government so the THA could have easily sourced the additional $15 million plus from their unspent balances, estimated to be $1.4 billion, to go along with what was allocated from the Government and the school would have been built or nearing completion,” he said.
“The children of the Scarborough RC School that come from all over Tobago can suffer at the expense of political expediency which is the handing out of cheques all over the place and new micro projects.”
Jack wants the Secretary of Education to clarify how it is that there is no money to build the new school and if the land for the school has been leased to a third party.