Premier Dr D Orlando Smith has publicly come out and reprimanded Education Minister Myron Walwyn for circumventing protocol and publicising the Auditor General’s ‘special report’ on the construction of the perimeter wall around the Elmore Stoutt High School campus.
“Due to Walwyn’s actions, it breaches long established guidelines and I cannot support him with this,” Dr Smith said.
The report should have first been passed through Cabinet and the House of Assembly before reaching the public and, based Dr Smith’s timeline, Walwyn preempted the process by at least three months.
Premier Smith, who received an email from Governor Augustus Jaspert on the matter, suggested that Walwyn undermined authority, especially that of the governor.
“Minister Walwyn’s actions were disrespectful to the governor who, in this case, should have been the person to bring the document to the attention of the public. I hereby call on Minister Walwyn to make a public apology for his actions … and [an assurance] that his actions will not repeat itself in the future,” the premier said.
I had my reasons
Walwyn subsequently submitted to the request of the Premier.
While speaking on radio on Friday, Walwyn said: “I have my reasons why l made the report public. That is beside the point at this time.”
“The Premier is someone I’ve worked with and have worked for, for the last seven years. I have the utmost respect and admiration for the Premier and I know the Premier would not have called upon me to apologise on a matter unless he knew I was wrong,” he said.
Walwyn released the report during an independent press conference that he called earlier this month.
His actions came amid increasing pressure and criticism of overspending on the wall project, among other things.
The Auditor General’s report concluded that the manner in which the project was executed gives the ‘appearance’ that the ministry sought to “avoid procurement requirements that have been established to secure value for money on government projects”.
Walwyn, however, fired back during his press conference stating that he is concerned about the operations of the Office of the Auditor General, whose report on the perimeter wall around Elmore Stoutt High School, he said, is vastly deficient and unbalanced.
Roughly 70 contractors and 15 petty contracts were used to construct the wall, which is about 1,562 feet long and about eight to 10 feet high.
The project had a cost overrun of a little more than $157,000.
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