Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has admitted the party made mistakes in government and said she is working to improve it. Speaking at the UNC’s Monday Night Forum at Chaguanas South Secondary School, she blasted the ruling administration, saying it continues to misrepresent the country.
She also said Finance Minister Colm Imbert has acted in violation of the law where the National Investment Fund is concerned, putting billions of assets in the insurance companies, credit unions, and financial institutions at risk. Persad-Bissessar said she has evidence that Imbert knew he was breaking the law and this may amount to financial impropriety and fraud in breach of the law.
She called on the minister to tell the country how much of the bonds were taken up by ordinary citizens and how much by state enterprises.
“Government institutions will be spending your money to buy the bonds. Is the government using state funds to give the perception that the bonds were over-subscribed?” she asked.
She said she had documents dropped in her mailbox by a concerned citizen. One of them, she said, was a Cabinet note dated July 26, and headed: Proposed Amendments to the Financial Institution Act, Chapter 7909 and the Insurance Act No 4 of 2018 to support the NIF.
On the same date according to Cabinet minutes, the Cabinet agreed to the recommendations of the note. This document reveals companies buying these bonds were going to be in violation of the Companies Act of 2018. Therefore, Persad-Bissessar said, the government is now seeking to amend the law to make it retroactive.
“Since July, the government knew they were putting financial institutions at risk,” Persad-Bissessar said, and Imbert is not to be trusted.
“They say the government does not have money to do important projects that will benefit the nation, but they have money for paintings amounting to $3 million, Soca on the Seas $.45 million, PM Benz $2 million, CL Financial sexual harassment case $3.5 million, Tarouba Stadium $150 million, Red House $440 million and Buccoo Estate $174 million,” she told party supporters.
Dr Keith Rowley’s PNM, she said, has a clear agenda and she urged supporters to remain alert not get carried away by PNM propaganda.
She outlined other costs, the Cabo Star mobilisation fee as $13 million and the Ocean Star fee as $20 million. The present government she said, had spent over $150 billion in less than three years.
She also lashed out against Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, saying in three years he could not build a doghouse.
Persad-Bissessar told the audience that the “Wives’ Club” of the PNM is benefiting from the treasury.
A company by the name of Unicom, she said, has contracts for several government projects including the Mt Hope School of Dentistry and the Red House restoration project. This company, she said, is also handling the reconstruction of the Port of Spain General Hospital.
“I call on Deyalsingh and Rowley to tell us which government minister’s wife that is getting all these contracts,” she said.
(See page 17)