Office of the Attorney-General to investigate allegations that equipment donated to DoE will be put to private use

Allegations have been made that the egg tray-making machine will be handed over to a private-sector entity for its own operation; however, the Department of the Environment (DoE) is categorically denying them.

The Department says it became aware of these claims, which were circulated via WhatsApp, on June 5.

The agency denies any “personal interest” within the Government as it relates to the operation of the machine. Rather, the delay is on account of the relevant due-diligence activities that are still being implemented, the DoE says.

Additionally, the Department claims that the selection and ordering of the machine were decisions of an internal team – and not of any other organization, as was stated in the WhatsApp message.

The agency says it is seeking legal advice on the voice recordings and has requested that the Office of the Attorney General conduct investigations.

“The DOE must therefore seriously address any and all allegations or suggestions that resources are not being used as per contractual obligations to the donors … as these allegations can cause donors to become reluctant to provide funds if they are of the view that funding is being used improperly or creating friction within local communities,” a media release says.

Until these allegations can be investigated and disproven by a report from the Office of the Attorney General, the DoE says it will be “suspending this particular area of engagement with the local farming community.”

The DOE states that it is an accredited entity that accesses funding for NGO’s, small businesses, and entrepreneurs. Over the last two years, it says, it has provided more than US$2 million to NGO’s for climate change resilience, and hopes to significantly expand this funding for additional beneficiaries.

It says that, over the past two years, it has worked tirelessly to be open and transparent to all of its stakeholders, including the local public.

Several residents tell REAL News they are not convinced by the Department’s claims. They point out that funding and donations from international agencies often take years to process, and they do not accept that no location for the equipment has been identified, so far, and training for its operators has not been completed.

“And as for transparency, they think we have forgotten about the Tesla for the Minister [of Health]?” one man asks.

That reference was to the Department’s controversial procurement of an electric vehicle that was used by Sir Molwyn Joseph.