KINGSTON, Jamaica, June 21, 2022 - The government has decided to return the ten thousand US dollars that Opposition Leader Mark Golding donated in his capacity as Leader of the Opposition, in February 2022, towards the repatriation of the Jamaican students who were in Ukraine.
The Leader of the Opposition intended that the funds were to be sent to the students to be used for “transportation, food and other necessities” related to their repatriation to Jamaica.
However, the Opposition is maintaining that "without consulting or even advising us, the Government applied our donation to reimbursing itself for costs incurred in bringing home the students.
"We strongly objected to this and we are happy that the Ministry has agreed to return the donation so that we can use it to benefit these students, who badly need the help.
The Party will be using the funds to provide grants towards their educational needs," the PNP said in a statement.
Before sending the donation to the bank account of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the MInister of State in that Ministry, Minister Leslie Campbell, had committed in writing to Party Leader Mark Golding, that the donated funds would be disbursed in accordance with Mr Golding’s instructions.
However, the money was bundled with that of the ministry, and used to pay the cost of transporting the students from the Ukraine to Jamaica, which according to the PNP, was not the specific intent of the donation.
The government maintained in a press release, that "On the basis of the decision of the Opposition Leader to disburse the funds through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Ministry acted on the guidance of the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service in depositing the funds to its account as ‘Appropriations-in-Aid’ for the intended purpose, in keeping with the financial regulations of the Public Service of Jamaica."
The government release noted that "In a recent letter from Mr. Golding, he now indicates that the funds ought instead to be distributed to each student towards his/her education costs.
"Notwithstanding his change of intention regarding the use of the funds, the communication accuses the Government of improper usage of the donation.
"Accordingly, the Government has decided that the funds be returned to the Leader of the Opposition at the earliest, to facilitate their use as best determined by him."