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Shamfa: I went to work, not play

CLINT CHAN TACK Saturday, May 20 2017

TOURISM Minister Shamfa Cudjoe yesterday dismissed charges of impropriety levelled against her by Opposition MPs Barry Padarath and Ramona Ramdial in the House of Representatives.

During the sitting, both MPs questioned Cudjoe about the $58,379.80 phone bill she incurred while attending a Caribbean Tourism Organisation conference in the Bahamas earlier this year. Government MPs thumped their desks as Cudjoe responded, “I travelled for work. I did not travel for play.” She explained that during the conference she had to be in contact with her ministry back in TT.

Cudjoe said she was part of a ministerial working group at the conference that was preparing documents for submission to Caricom prime ministers. She said these exercises involved the exchange of documents.

Cudjoe added, “Whenever Wi- Fi was available I utilised Wi-Fi.

Whenever it was not I accessed the Internet otherwise.” She also said the bill clearly showed the largest component was for data roaming and TSTT is investigating the matter.

Cudjoe previously said the charges included $1,111.06 (calls), $50,616.61 (data roaming) and $6,652.13 (Value Added Tax).

Prior to Cudjoe’s reply, Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie said the bill was paid.

At the post-Cabinet news conference on Thursday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert and Cuffie said roaming charges in the Bahamas were higher than in other countries.

When Padarath objected to the answers provided by Cudjoe and Cuffie, Speaker Bridgid Annisette- George advised him to “take a little walk” and get his “anxiety under control.” Padarath left the Parliament chamber and returned when the House was debating the Bail Amendment Bill. Cudjoe also reiterated Cabinet’s decision to close the Tourism Development Corporation.



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