Harmon says Education PS will be ‘disciplined’ if guard hut scandal proves true

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Minister of State Joseph Harmon

Should an investigation into the swindling of public funds for personal use found to be true, the Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Education Vibert Welch could find himself being disciplined.

Welch has come under fire for allegedly using up public funds to build a guard hut at his private residence at a cost of more than half a million dollars.

Responding to the issue on Friday, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said he was made aware of the matter and had sought an explanation for which he received. He said government had always spoken about cost cutting and the fact that each public official needed to ensure that the dollars allocated by the state “go as long as they can”.

“All employees of the state, in the public sector, they are required to act in accordance with the law. And anybody, once they step outside of that, they are exposing themselves to be sanctioned or disciplined”, Harmon told reporters.

He said once an investigation is done, and due process is followed, “then any person within the state sector that acts outside the law will be subject to discipline.

The story of the Welch’s guard hut was carried earlier this week in the media, revealing that more than half-million was expended by the Ministry on a guard hut at his Bent Street, Georgetown residence.

PS- Vibert Welch

The structure is reportedly five feet in width, five feet in length and about eight feet high.

The contract was awarded to Linden Ogle, who was listed among the contractors that submitted proposals for the construction of the hut.

Welch has since distanced himself from the project and cited that he is not responsible for awarding the contract, or the methodology that was used to determine the price.

He reportedly said that all he did was sign off on the documents after the relevant technical persons, including the engineer and the Chief Works Officer, would have given their approval.

The PS had explained in the media that his signature of approval was needed, since he is the accounting officer, and all disbursements of funds have to be approved by him.

Reports are now circulating that while he was PS of the Indigenous People’s Affairs Ministry, Welch also created a similar guard hut to the one he now has on his premises, the difference being however, is that the first hut was allegedly constructed at a cost of $1M from public funds.

After being reshuffled and transferred to the Ministry of Education, the $1M hut was reportedly taken to the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs on Thomas Street.

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