12 01 20

first_img…disciplinary actions not ruled out – HarmonShould the allegation prove true after thorough investigation — that Permanent Secretary Vibert Welch of the Education Ministry had used public funds to build at his private residence a guard hut which cost more than $500,000 to construct — he could find himself seriously immersed in proverbial hot water.Minister of State Joseph Harmon, responding on Friday to queries on the issue, said the matter had come to his attention, and he had sought and received an explanation from the Public Service Ministry.He said Government has steadfastly advocated cost-cutting, and that each public official needed to ensure that the dollars allocated by the state under his/her charge should be made to “go as long as they can”.“All employees of the state in the public sector… are required to act in accordance with the law. And anybody, once they step outside of that (obligation), they are exposing themselves to be sanctioned or disciplined,” Harmon told reporters.Harmon said once an investigation is done and due process is followed, “then any person within the state sector that acts outside the law will be subject to discipline.”The story was broken earlier this week in another section of the media that more than half a million dollars had been expended by the Education Ministry (MoE) to construct a guard hut at Welch’s Bent Street, Georgetown residence. The report stated that the structure is approximately five feet in width, five feet in length, and about eight feet in height. It already has all its electrical components in place, and judging from its appearance, it had recently been painted. According to the report, the contract was awarded to Linden Ogle, listed among the contractors who had submitted proposals for the construction of the hut.The MoE is also reportedly paying $20,000 per month to rent a toilet for the security guards.The report has said that Welch has since distanced himself from the project, declaring that he had played no part in awarding the contract or formulating the methodology that was used to arrive at its seemingly exorbitant price. Welch said that all he did was to sign off on the documents after the relevant technical persons, including the engineer and the Chief Works Officer, would have given their approval.PS Welch has explained that his signature of approval was needed, since he is the accounting officer, and all disbursements of funds have to be approved by him.This project was reportedly endorsed by PS of the Department of Public Service, Reginald Brotherson, four days ago.Meanwhile, Welch is embroiled in another guard hut scandal which reportedly cost $1 million. This hut was allegedly built while he was serving as PS for the Indigenous Peoples Affairs Ministry.last_img read more