Tuesday 21 November, 2017

MP knocks Gov't 'vindictiveness' as former diplomats await payments

Naparima MP Rodney Charles is demanding that payments of terminal benefits be made to former diplomats who demitted office after the last General Elections.

In a statement on Sunday, Charles accused Government of being vindictive to citizens, particularly those perceived to be UNC supporters.  

Charles said the former diplomats served the country with distinction in Geneva, the United States, Jamaica, Uganda and Nigeria among other places, with some having had decades of experience in the diplomatic service being former career officers.

He said they have been pleading, to absolutely no avail, with the current administration for more than two years to honour its commitments regarding terminal benefits.

He chastised the Government for wastage of public funds but not paying what is due to the former diplomats.

"You can find $90 million for the Brian Lara stadium. You can waste money on corruptly acquired vessels for the seabridge. You can acquire million-dollar paintings and find three million dollars for a golf course.

You can pay thousands in roaming charges for a minister. But you cannot meet your commitments to former diplomats.”

He continued, "We are told that Minister Moses spent an entire week in New York to deliver a poorly received address to empty seats at this year's UN General Assembly. If money is now tight, as they often tell us, did he need an entire week?"

Charles said the payments owed to these diplomats include outstanding gratuity payments, relocation allowances, payments for leave not taken, and where applicable, hardship allowances.

"Many of these ambassadors, High Commissioners and Consuls General have commitments including children's tertiary education, medical expenses, house repairs, and all the stresses experienced by senior citizens in this "Imbertian" world of daily struggles to survive.”

"One former diplomat had to get down on her knees and literally beg for a loan from a bank to support her child studying abroad while this government refuses to honor its obligations," he added.

Charles said some of these diplomats have taken, or are contemplating taking, legal action against the Government but would prefer that the Rowley-led administration do what is honorable and right.

He is calling on the Government to man up to their responsibilities, stop being vindictive to those perceived as not being PNM supporters, and pay the former diplomats what is owed to them.