Pressed about a $75 million cut in the Budget allocation for CEPEP from $433 million last year to $358 million this year, Finance Minister Colm Imbert on Tuesday said the entire CEPEP programme is under review.
As the House of Representatives sat in its first day of Standing Finance Committee, Tabaquite MP Dr Suruj Rambachan, a former Chaguanas Mayor, asked Minister of Local Government Kazim Hosein about the CEPEP cut.
Rambachan asked about the fate of plant cuttings that have already been dumped by the roadside by CEPEP crews?
Shooting Rambachan a dark look, Imbert replied, “Arrangements will be made.” Rambachan shot back, “Can I ask the Minister (Hosein)?”.
Hosein said his ministry has in-house CEPEP trucks that could pick up the cuttings. Rambachan asked if these were contractors’ private trucks sporting a CEPEP sticker? Upon advice, Hosein admitted this was indeed the case.
Rambachan said those were the trucks of the very contractors who remain unpaid, adding, “People are complaining of the stench.”
Cumuto/Manzanilla MP Christine Hosein asked about existing contracts. Hosein said all have been paid up until September 29.
Hosein challenged that remark, saying, “There are contractors who have not been paid. Contractors have not been paid for three months.” She promised to provide details to Hosein.
Earlier Hosein vowed to boost worker productivity in his ministry and the regional corporations. Endorsing Rambachan’s claim about some staff who work just a two-hour day, Hosein said, “I totally agree with you. I’ve seen it first hand. People come to work at 7 am (and) by 9 am they are home.”