Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) Stuart Young yesterday, spoke of certain office holders and advisers to former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who racked up excessive phone bills under her tenure. Young was speaking prior to the Standing Finance Committee of the House of Representatives approving an expenditure of $250,074,590 to the OPM.
Young said, compared to what happened under Persad-Bissessar’s administration, there had been significant savings at the OPM. He said in some cases, advisers and other people reporting to Persad-Bissessar incurred cellphone bills as high as $90,000 per month. Looking at Opposition MPs on the other side of the Parliament chamber, Young said these expenses went to the cellphones of “some people who sit here now.”
Despite complaints from Princes Town MP Barry Padarath, Young said Rowley has had seven official trips as Prime Minister since assuming office. He said only $2.1 million was spent on those trips and the country is seeing the benefits from them. Rowley supported Young’s statement. He said the record needed to be corrected to save the public from the excesses of Padarath.
Young also said there were savings in security as the Police Service and the Defence Force now provide security at the OPM as well as the Diplomatic Centre and the Prime Minister’s official residence in St Ann’s. He said Rowley only has one residence as Prime Minister and the Defence Force was used to provide security at Persad-Bissessar’s private residence in south Trinidad.
Minister of State in the OPM Ayanna Webster-Roy said some of the allocation for security would be used for safe houses now being established to protect vulnerable women and children.