Gov’t says $20m spent on PM’s China trip
BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, December 01, 2013
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THE Government has confirmed that it spent more than $20 million on the official visit to China of a Jamaican delegation headed by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller in late August.
Leader of Government Business in the Senate, AJ Nicholson, made the disclosure in answers he provided on Friday to questions tabled by Opposition member Senator Robert Montague.
According to Senator Nicholson, the trip cost the Government $19,680,537, including payments for “travel, subsistence and contingencies”, which were paid from the budgetary allocation in the ministries of foreign affairs and foreign trade; water, land, environment and climate change; national security; and the Office of the Prime Minister.
He said, however, that the figure did not include costs incurred by the embassy of Jamaica in Beijing, which amounted to US$3,461.84 or J$366,869.52.
Senator Nicholson said that the prime minister was accompanied by 17 persons, including the chairman of the board of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, Jajil Dabdoub; Dimitri Dabdoub, general manager of Tools Hardware & Supplies; Hugh Graham, managing director of Paramount Trading Jamaica Limited; four journalists; two security officers; and a team of civil servants.
He said that four agreements were signed: Letter of Exchange to facilitate construction of two early childhood institutions
in Tower Hill, Kingston and Morant Estate, St Thomas; Letter of Exchange for expansion of the Confucius Institute at he University of the West Indies, Mona; Economic and Technical Agreement Grant Aid valued at US$16 million (J$1.6 billion) for projects to be mutually agreed between both countries; and a Preferential Buyer Credit Loan Agreement to finance the Major Infrastructure Development Programme (MIDP) valued at US$300 million (J$30 billion), which will replace the Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP) which ends this year.
The Letters of Exchange and the Economic and Technical Agreement Grant Aid are gifts to the people of Jamaica, while the Preferential Buyer Credit Loan is somewhat similar to the loan arrangements for JDIP.
The agreements took immediate effect upon signing by Senator Nicholson, as the minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, as authorised by the minister of finance and planning, under the Loan Act, the Financial and Audit Administration (Amendment) Act and the Jamaica Constitution.
In a statement to the House of Representatives last month on the trip which ran from August 20-25, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said that, in relation to all of the identified projects, stakeholder consultations would begin shortly to ensure that there is full understanding of the scale, scope, benefits and implications of what is contemplated, and that the interests of the people of Jamaica are protected at all stages of the project and programme development.