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Friday 14 August, 2020

Kamla: Infrastructure plan to use idle UTC, NIB cash balances

Pictured: UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar speaks at a UNC meeting on July 30, 2020.

Pictured: UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar speaks at a UNC meeting on July 30, 2020.

United National Congress’ (UNC) leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has accused Government of misleading the population on the party’s proposed National Infrastructure Development Fund.

The fund is intended to address the deterioration of roads, drainage and public transportation through the use of the cash balances of State enterprises like Unit Trust Corporation (UTC) and National Insurance Board (NIBTT).

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has since issued a warning to the citizenry not to give the UNC a chance to tap into the UTC and NIBTT cash reserves by allowing them back into office.

On a political platform on Thursday night, the UNC leader said Dr Rowley and former Public Utilities minister Robert Le Hunte’s claim that the UNC intends to “raid” the funds of these institutions is without merit.

She clarified that the funds would come from the idle cash balances of both organisations.

The UNC leader explained that these funds do not constitute the NIBTT’s national pension fund or the UTC’s mutual funds. She said the funds are legally separate and distinct from their respective institutions.

Meanwhile, Persad-Bissessar claimed National Security Minister Stuart Young has had to recuse himself from Cabinet meetings more than 50 times in the past five years, owing to conflicts of interest involving family members.

She said: “Stuarty boy in five years, he has recused himself on 57 occasions from the Cabinet meeting. Fifty-seven! You know what that is? That is almost a whole year of Cabinet meetings...Cabinet meetings are once per week. This man has recused himself 57 times, more than a year.”

“And what was it about? Conflict of interest related to his family.”

Persad-Bissessar claimed that she was in possession of documents obtained from a Freedom of Information Application request proving this.

Young, when contacted for a response said he had not heard the statements made by the UNC leader but gave a comment based on the previous quote sent to him.

He denied that he has ever recused himself from a Cabinet meeting.

“I recused myself from participating on 57 Cabinet Notes over a period of years because I took the precaution of not being accused of conflict of interest on certain notes. In a Cabinet meeting the Cabinet considers many Notes. There have been thousands of Cabinet Notes considered by the Cabinet over the past five years.

I have never recused myself from a Cabinet meeting.

It seems that Mrs Persad-Bissessar really never participated in Cabinet meetings, as was rumoured, and has no understanding of how a Cabinet meeting is and the difference between a Cabinet meeting and a simple, singular Cabinet Note in a meeting.”

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