WHILE hundreds of nationals are stranded abroad, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is calling on National Security Minister Stuart Young to say if the permanent secretary in his ministry was granted an exemption to leave and return to the country in December.
She said she has information that the PS left for the United States on December 19 and returned home on December 30.
If this is so, she said, an explanation must be given to the citizens as to the nature of his business because nationals stranded abroad for months have been denied repatriation.
“This is the ministry granting the exemptions, What special favour was given to the PS?”
Speaking at the launch of the United National Congress (UNC) local government by-election campaign on Monday night, Persad-Bissessar also called on Young to explain his “first come, first served” explanation of granting of exemptions in relation to the exemption for the daughter of the Prime Minister, who Young said applied for an exemption in November.
Persad-Bissessar quoted Young from a November 7 news conference in which he said, “Government’s priority remains getting nationals of Trinidad and Tobago back home on a first come first served basis, whilst applying the existing policies that have been previously stated. As such, exemptions and the granting of approvals will depend on the number of persons in the queue and are based on the quarantine space available.”
Both Rowley and Young have defended the arrival of the PM’s daughter Dr Sonel Rowley-Stewart in early December and dismissed those who suggested she jumped the queue to get home.
“How did Miss Rowley apply in November and get exemption in December? What about those who applied in March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October?” she asked.
“Did she also bring eight friends with her? Who are the additions? What is your policy (for granting exemptions)?”
She said friends and family of the government had been allowed entry since the borders were closed in March, yet stranded residents begging for exemptions were denied to come to funerals, to visit sick relatives, “and you want to tell me this is not a violation of human rights of our citizens?”
Senator Anil Roberts also spoke on the plight of citizens whose constitutional rights he said were being trampled upon.
“No money, sleeping in the subway. We have become an embarrassment to the entire world. Making headlines in international newspapers, ‘TT neglecting its citizens,” he said.
Persad-Bissessar said she receives a barrage of e-mails every day from citizens begging her to do something about this "flawed" exemption process.
“It pains me to say all I can do is plead with this wicked, shameless government. Any government that abandons any of its citizens is not a government but a failed dictatorship.”