The operations and management of the People’s Empowerment Programme remains under investigation . According to sources the investigation began since 2015 when personnel within the management of the programme revealed troubling information regarding the overall management of the programme. In a monthly Press Conference held late in 2018 Prime Minister Dr. Hon. Timothy Harris in responding to a question regarding the alleged investigation stated that he can confirm that upon taking office and up to present day there had been reports of irregularities in the PEP programme prior to 2015. PM Harris stated that instances of items intended for PEP was instead used for the private use of an event planner.
The PEP Programme prior to 2015 was clouded with many allegations of rampant corruption , mismanagement and misappropriation. Up to 2015 the Programme cost taxpayers of the country over $200 Million dollars. The programme was not only known for it’s bloated temporary workforce but it was also well known for it’s extravagance and lack of fiscal prudence.
Some of the allegations regarding the misappropriation and mismanagement included among other things:
- The Transfer of Millions of Dollars to a Business Account whose part owner was a member of a PEP employee
- Allegations of thousands of PEP Funds being directed to a Local Event Planner
The PEP programme was hastily started under the former Douglas-led Administration, under the dark cloud of a Motion of No Confidence. It was heavily criticized by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for being poorly organized, where out of over four thousand persons enrolled on the programme, only about one hundred and thirty (130) had received any real training. It was not value for money. The programme also came in for serious scrutiny from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that said that the programme, which was supposed to be only a short-term training programme, was hemorrhaging the public purse. The IMF shared its concerns that such a programme was not fiscally sustainable and that people being trained on the short-term programme should find productive work or set up their own businesses to contribute to the productive sector, the engine of growth.
The PEP commenced in December, 2012. PEP was funded to the tune of EC$ 196,203,733.88. Of this amount, $193,368,347.06 came from the SIDF (Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation) and $2.7 million from the Federal Government, and remainder from interest and other income. Millions of this are now said to be under investigation.