Minister of Health Sir Molwyn is denying that more than $2 million was spent on a new public cemetery and says that only about $140,000 has been disbursed, to date.
However, he gives no explanation on how the balance of the funds disbursed by the CIP Unit was spent.
Accounts published by the Unit recorded that $2,160,000.00 was disbursed since December 1, 2015, via cheque No. 1068 – to the Treasury, for the Ministry of Public Works – specifically for the creation of a new public cemetery to be sited at Tomlinsons.
But Sir Molwyn said recently that the cemetery has not materialized because he is waiting on funds – about $2 million – to become available.
Accordingly, members of the public have asked about the CIP disbursement; and, today in Parliament, Opposition Leader Jamale Pringle put those questions to the Finance Minister, Gaston Browne, who passed the buck to Joseph.
Contradicting Joseph, however, Works Minister Lennox Weston claims that the money is available from the Treasury – to be disbursed in stages as the project progresses, as is normal procedure.
But, neither Minister could explain what has stalled the project and prevented it from being realized these past six years.
Meanwhile, another disbursement was made in 2017 – this time of US$54,054.00 – for the design of the burial ground.
Joseph has said that only US$30,000 was spent for that design – pretty pictures of which were displayed during his “Statement by a Minister” – but, again, no explanation about the balance of the money was offered.
Members of the public who followed the sitting this morning tell REAL News it has not escaped them that neither Joseph nor Weston has answered the questions.
Ironically, Sir Molwyn chided the former administration, accusing it of showing little respect for the dead and claiming that the former St. George representative objected to a new cemetery being established.
However, listeners recall that there were, in fact, objections from the residents of neighbouring Potters Village about the cemetery being sited in their vicinity. Other objections centred around the fact that the Tomlinsons site is prone to flooding.
Minister Joseph also proclaimed that a new age in burials has arrived and that he is going to ensure that all church and public grounds conform to the new standard.
MP Pringle tells REAL News that he is surprised that Joseph is showing such concern for burial sites when, at nearby Heroes Park, the grave of The Father of the Nation, Sir V.C. Bird, sits virtually ignored, even on December 9, which the Antigua Labour Party observes in tribute to the National Hero.
National Hero Sir George Walter is also interred at that location.
The United Progressive Party has routinely cleaned both graves ahead of its own celebration of National Heroes every year.