OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar alleged that the transfer of a Porsche car sold by someone in 2016 had not been declared to the Integrity Commission for several years, until 2021. She was speaking in the budget debate in the House of Representatives on Friday.
She said the budget has an allocation for the Integrity Commission, to which people in public office are compelled by law to declare assets.
“The country learnt of individuals who sold a Porche SUV to their friend and did not transfer it. That is in breach of the law.
“Additionally, if a person in public life fails to declare any sale of any assets, he is in breach of the law.”
She said Integrity Commission records showed a person in public life sold a vehicle in 2016 and failed to disclose the sale to the Integrity Commission in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
“Failed! In breach of the law. Only in 2021, after the mark buss, was the sale declared by letter (in) February 2021. Why did it take five years to disclose this sale? What were you hiding?”
She asked if the commission was under-resourced to detect these matters?
“This Government has slashed the recurrent expenditure to the Integrity Commission, from $16.6 million in 2015 to $8.3 million in this budget. We deserve an explanation.”
Persad-Bissessar said while citizens were lining up to do their personal transactions, Attorney General Al-Rawi’s family was collecting millions of dollars per year by renting offices to the Government, including buildings housing branches of the Ministry of Public Utilities, Personnel Department, Ministry of Social Development and Family Services, and the police service.
Persad-Bissessar also inquired about TT Petroleum Holdings Ltd overriding the advice of its own legal team not to appeal TTPH’s lost case against AV Oil Ltd, the sale of Kay Donna land and the growth of NCB GlobalFinance.
She asked if the Government had contracted an Israeli company to intercept people’s phone calls, claiming a whistleblower had said so, as she recalled a past PNM government once tapping the phone of the then president.
Persad-Bissessar asked why a proposed fuel card was to be distributed by the Ministry of Public Utilities, asking, “Is this to be another PNM slush fund?”
On the Police Service Commission imbroglio, she said it was an unprecedented constitutional crisis which demands absolute transparency.
“In this regard, I wish to advise that I have written to Her Excellency the President, co-signed by all 19 UNC MPs, calling on the President to provide much-needed answers to a series of questions.”