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Last updated: 26 October, 2007 - Published 22:06 GMT
 
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Jamaica's Light bulb controversy
 
Jamaica's Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller
Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller has asked former PNP ministers for a report on the controversy.
An energy saving campaign instituted by Cuba and replicated in other Caribbean countries is causing a lot of political heat in Jamaica.

Cuba came up with the programme to increase usage of energy-efficient light bulbs in a bid to bring electricity consumption under control on the island.

It then began giving away the fluorescent bulbs last year to Caribbean neighbours, including Jamaica, which was supposed to receive four million of them.

Now the new Jamaica Labour Party administration has ordered a full investigation into alleged irregularities in the operation of the programme under the former People's National Party government.

Energy Minister Clive Mullings first outlined the government's concerns about the programme in a statement to the Jamaica parliament.

Chief among them is why a project for the free distribution of bulbs resulted in the previous government paying out more than J$114 million.

He also revealed that a company named as Universal Management and Development Company was paid more than J$85m for the implementation of the project.

Financial Watchdog

That company, according to the minister, was incorporated at the same time as the distribution of the bulbs commenced.

It was also stated that several members of parliament were allocated funds to meet costs associated with the project.

The government stood the costs of clearance, storage and delivery of bulbs as well the transportation costs of Cuban advisers.

Mr Mullings has promised to turn over all the information the government has unearthed to the office of the Auditor General, the national financial watchdog, for investigation.

The Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller has already summoned former Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell and aides to to discuss the controversy, which has caused alarm in PNP ranks.

Both have been ordered to submit a report to Mrs. Simpson Miller by 29 October.

 
 
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