THE Opposition Leader is alleging the existence of a medical slush fund in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA). Kamla Persad-Bissessar made this allegation at a United National Congress (UNC) public meeting at the Union Presbyterian Primary School.
“Tonight, I call for a criminal investigation into this matter to hold accountable those responsible for this wonton spending in Tobago while our innocent children are suffering and mothers are crying and begging for funding,” she declared. Efforts to contact THA Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles for comment were unsuccessful
Saying she asked former minister Devant Maharaj to file a freedom of information application to find out if this is true, Persad-Bissessar claimed the THA spent $1, 773, 352.44 to send Dr Kevin King for a liver transplant. “Tonight, I call for a criminal investigation into this matter to hold accountable those responsible for this wonton spending in Tobago while our innocent children are suffering and mothers are crying and begging for funding,” she declared.
King was flown from Tobago to India via air ambulance on April 8 for the life-saving operation. THA covered the cost of the transplant, and contributions to medical expenses were made by King’s colleagues at Scarborough General Hospital and generous Tobagonians. King died at the Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon, India on April 28.
Persad-Bissessar claimed the UNC asked the THA for a copy of the policy guideline it used to provide funding for King. She said the party was told “there is no such policy document in existence.”
Persad-Bissessar called upon the Prime Minister to say what line item in the THA’s budget allows for the expenditure of money to “pay for the medical treatment of PNM (People’s National Movement) friend in Tobago,” where this “bottomless pit of money” came from and whether the average family in TT has access to this alleged fund. She claimed sums of $2 million and $3 million were spent on the medical bills of La Horquetta/Talparo MP Maxie Cuffie and Energy Minister Franklin Khan respectively.
While saying she had no problem with people receiving medical assistance if they needed it, Persad-Bissessar said her heart bleeds for children who have been unable to access money from the Children’s Life Fund for treatment.
Reminding UNC supporters the fund was established by her former government, Persad-Bissessar described Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh as “the monster of health.” She claimed Deyalsingh is proud of the number of children that have been rejected by the fund.