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1 To: The Editor The pen they say is mightier than the sword. It is for this very reason that personswho wield the pen ought to exercise more care in what they write. Fairness and truth mustbe the order of the day. In the same vein, for transparency, the public should be advised beyond thedisclaimer below the editorial as to who the author of the piece is. It is part of natural justicethat the accused should know and face his accuser. It is public knowledge that the Gleaner as an institution is engaged in a crusadeagainst the Community Development Fund. The basis of its objection to the fund is that it ispork. For the uninitiated pork or pork barrel is the use of government funds for projectsdesigned to win votes. To put it very mildly, the Gleaner Editorial of March 19, 2012 is quite uncharitable. Itis patently clear that the author of the piece simply “ran with the story”. There was not eventhe courtesy of a call to get a comment from me in order to bring some balance and indeedsubstance. In short the editorial is a travesty and a disservice to the readers and an abuseof freedom of the press.
2 I am not anyone’s pawn and certainly not the Gleaner’s to be captured in the crossfire of its offensive against the Community Development Fund. In fact, I completely rejectthe editorial’s caricature of me as being the week’s “en passant, obligatory bad example”. The fact is, at no time did I in persona submit any invoices for projects. Invoiceswhich were submitted were done so by service providers to the Social DevelopmentCommission, the implementing agency for the projects. Where the error was made is that, those invoices were addressed to the Member ofParliament as opposed to the Social Development Commission or East Central St.Catherine Constituency. Of further note, is that the invoices which were submitted were approved andstamped by the Social Development Commission for forward passage unto the CommunityDevelopment Fund. As a new Member of Parliament, I took it upon myself to sit with the CommunityDevelopment Fund Unit to ascertain the correct procedures in order to avoid the verysituation which is now unfolding. It appears to me that there was some misunderstanding between the CommunityDevelopment Fund and the Social Development Commission as it pertains to procedure, asmy team was told squarely by the SDC that the request made of them to develop a budgetfor the project submitted was not the remit of the SDC.
3 In any event, the projects identified were standard and done in consultation with theCommunity Development Fund. I was therefore surprised to learn from previous storiescarried by the Gleaner that Mrs. Scott Blair “reported” me to Parliament, especially in light ofthe fact that she ought to have known that requests for invoices must not be directed to theMember of Parliament. It is beyond me, that I am being “singled out” when it is clear that new members ofParliament are having difficulties with the implementation of projects. Clearly this wouldspeak to deficiencies in effectively communicating what the proper procedures are. Ratherthan errant politicians running amok. The attempt by the author of the opinion to dismiss what are the facts isdisingenuous at best. Actions were taken in accordance with the “guidance” which wasgiven. Therefore, “That everything has been above board” is precisely the point. The publicmust be disabused of the view that all politicians enter the political fray in order to furthertheir own nest or that of friends. It is the aversion which the Gleaner has of the CDF why it has set its face firmlyagainst the fund. In the instant case, I for one reject any implication that there was anyattempt to misuse or misdirect public funds for political outcomes. At no point, have I assumed the job of a civil servant. The ignorance of the writer isrevealed here. Beyond legislation and policy making, the Member of Parliament hasconstituents who elected him to serve them in other respects. The Member of Parliament is
4entitled to hire a Consultant to the CDF and that person reports to the Member ofParliament directly, not the Government of Jamaica or the CDF Unit. Civil Servants are not elected by the people. In that regard, I was not acting ultravires with respect to the CDF, having regards to the identification of projects. As a matter offact, I am one of two (2) Members of Parliament who got a specific mandate from myconstituents as there was an endorsement of the manifesto which was placed before themon the 29th November, 2011. The author reveals the real reason for this unwarranted attack upon me in theseventh paragraph where he/she states, inter alia, “…Mr. Brown is joining his fellows in therendering and delivery of pork which, fundamentally, is what the $1.2 billion in the CDF isabout….” the rest of the paragraph can be described as a vulgar rant. What is most upsetting is that the project, for which this unnecessary and ill directedopinion is focused, is one of tremendous benefit to the residents in the constituency,deliberately placed in what would be considered a strong support base for the opposingparty. The symbol being sent here is that I am the Member of Parliament for the entireconstituency whether the residents voted for me or not. Well, the Gleaner and I will not see eye-to-eye on this issue. I support theCommunity Development Fund which is a successor to the Social and Economic SupportProgramme. I am an unapologetic advocate for more funds to be provided to the Fund so
5that the elected representative(s) can bring about meaningful change in their constituency.There are sufficient checks and balances in place to ensure that abuse doesn’t take place. East Central Saint Catherine is a new constituency and as such no allocation wouldhave been made nor would there be residual funds from projects previously approved. Forthis reason a special provision of Three (3) Million Dollars was made for the newconstituencies. Not one cent of which has been spent inappropriately. Having regards to the allocation of the fund allocated to East Central SaintCatherine, the areas covered were Welfare, Education, Social Housing, Sports, a CareerFair and Expo as well as securing the services of a Consultant. The residents of East Central Saint Catherine can rest assured that as Member ofParliament I will not be deterred in my efforts to deliver on the mandate of the people. Arnaldo Brown Member of Parliament East Central Saint Catherine