July 13, 2020 | By Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie |
Paulwell and the School Board have questions to answer … Does the Education Ministry also?
Arising from the Special Report of the Integrity Commission is a matter yet to be properly accounted for. It is the $6 million donated by Petrojam to Camperdown High School said to have been requested by PNP MP, Phillip Paulwell in whose Constituency/Riding the school falls.
Camperdown High Mini Stadium
This high school is well known for producing excellent athletes. They have held The Camperdown Classics Track Meet repeatedly. The need for a mini stadium was identified, and the donation of $6 million dollars was given as a grant to build out this facility.
Following the publication of the damning report, the often perceived wily character named Paulwell Paulwell who sensed that he may be or is being stained by the revelation of the grant to build the Camperdown Mini Stadium, moved quickly to clear the air. He firstly attempted to dispute how the funds were donated. He said it was:
“offered” and not “requested” by him.
Also he acknowledged receiving the grant of $6 million and volunteered to explain how it was spent.
“The 6 million dollars was received by me. $1.7 million dollars was spent on architectural drawings for the project, the balance of $4.3 million dollars were placed in an “interest bearing account at the National Commercial Bank”.
Sounds good Mr. MP, Phillip Paulwell. As a lawyer you know very well that to prove your case you have to bring the evidential material to support your utterances as to how this $6 million dollars have been allocated. Specifically, where is the interest bearing bank account you told us about?
The principal of Camperdown High School gave a different account of how the total Fund of $6 million dollars were spent.
“We acknowledge the receipt of the said funds, yes! 1.7 was spent on drawings and the balance of 4. 3 million was “borrowed” … used to assist with school expenses like utility bills etc.
Well the school officials have a different narrative as to the fate of at least 4.3 million dollars of the funds … this is assuming that the $1.7 million was in fact spent as reported and corroborated by Paulwell. Is this aspect a classic case of a conspiracy to deceive?
One thing that is clear, the Mini Stadium has not been built and that was the purpose for which the funds were granted. Also no proof has been produced to support the suggestion that drawings were produced as first stated by Paulwell. There are a number of other questions which need urgent answers.
We are not casting any aspersions or accusing anyone of wrong doing. But this is a public matter and funds from a state entity were allocated to do a certain job which has not been done. We have every right to seek answers. Do you not think so?
We are calling on the Ministry of education to cause an audit to be done at Camperdown High School so the fund’s expenditure may be verified. Six million dollars cannot just vanish without a trace. There has to be a paper trail. Follow the trail. See where it leads and many other discoveries may be unearthed along its path. Just a thought.
Proper governance dictates an immediate audit of the School’s affairs. We were led to believe that allocations from the Ministry of Education were more than adequate to cover the School’s operating expenses. Is this a false notion? We need to have that question answered too.
Should the fraud squad be called in to investigate the misallocated six million dollars donation to Camperdown High School to build a Mini Stadium? We know that the Mini Stadium is yet to be built, yet funds cannot be fully accounted for?
Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is Senior National & International Correspondent for Vision Newspaper