Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young, yesterday, alleged that no Cabinet note existed to approve the allocation of upscale housing units at Federation Villas under the former People’s Partnership (PP) government to a handful of ministers, MPs and advisers, including allegedly two units for former Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.
Young also alleged that as the PP left office, records were destroyed in the Ministry of Housing and computers were wiped clean while speaking at yesterday’s post-Cabinet news briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.
Housing Minister Randall Mitchell later told Newsday that the “allocation” of such units meant the beneficiaries were allowed to stay at the housing units (paid for and maintained by the State) but not to purchase the units.
Young said units were allocated to Dave Tancoo, Sham Baldeosingh, Roodal Moonilal, Ashworth Jack, Delmon Baker, Vernella Alleyne-Toppin and Anand Ramlogan, (who were all PP activists or politicians) while Barry Padarath (a former prime minister’s assistant and now Princes Town MP) used a unit at Flagstaff Hill.
Former Speaker Wade Mark and former minister Jack Warner never took up their allocated units, Young added.
Young said, “So it’s very hypocritical of the Opposition to attack the Government MPs at Victoria Keys,” Young said, referring to Tobago East MP Ayanna Wester-Roy, Tobago West MP Shamfa Cudjoe and Senate Vice President Nigel De Freitas.
Young claimed he was told of computers and furniture gone missing from a housing unit under the PP’s tenure. He said security logbooks had suggested ministry computers were taken to Federation Villas to be wiped clean by foreign consultants.
Otherwise, Young invited the public to buy five remaining units at Victoria Keys.
Padarath told Newsday his accommodation at Flagstaff Hill took place under a policy enacted by former prime minister Patrick Manning from 2002 to 2010, under which one or two units at Flagstaff were available as needed for staff and consultants. “It’s no secret I was the closest employee to prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. I’m from south as is Mrs Persad-Bissessar.”
Apparently hitting back at the Government’s allocation of units at Victoria Keys to three Tobago parliamentarians, Padarath said, “We did not utilise existing housing stock that could bring in revenue on the open market.”
Former housing minister Dr Roodal Moonilal in an e-mail to Newsday indicated, “This is the first time I am hearing of this. Since I left office they claim I have a mall, a rum shop and six houses, now an HDC apartment.
I think Stuart Young is laughable. I have lived my entire life in the house I was born in. Young is trying to deflect attention away from breaking the law by giving Government officials, party officers and cronies exclusive upscale posh housing units at Victoria Keys valued at $20 million.”
Former HDC head Jerlean John, talking to Newsday, flatly denied any wrongdoing and angrily accused Young of being untruthful.
She vowed to talk to her attorneys about possible legal action against Young over his remarks. John said HDC allocations could be mandated by a Cabinet decision or a board decision as “it’s all about government policy,” and said government advisers (such as Padarath, Tancoo and Baldeosingh) were entitled to accommodation under their terms and conditions.
John said that if the general public was asking the Government why they housed three Tobagonian parliamentarians at Victoria Keys they should just come out and say why, rather than accusing the former government of wrongdoing.