Kamla Persad questions Government on spending of $52b announced in 2022 budget

'My question is this: what have you done with all that money? What do you have to show for expenditure for these massive amounts of money?' she asked during the debate of the mid-year budget review at the Parliament sitting yesterday.

Kamla Persad questions Government on spending of $52b announced in 2022 budget
Kamla Persad questions Government on spending of $52b announced in 2022 budget

Trinidad and Tobago: Opposition Leader Kamla Persad- Bissessar asked this question yesterday as she noted the Government had a $52 billion 2022 budget and had asked for $3 billion more while the people of this ‘country continue to suffer.

‘My question is this: what have you done with all that money? What do you have to show for expenditure for these massive amounts of money?’ she asked during the debate of the mid-year budget review at the Parliament sitting yesterday.

She said there was no proper economic leadership and management and questioned what the Government would do after the war in Ukraine was over.

‘After the war in Ukraine, after these prices go back to normal, what will you do?’ she asked, adding that the Government has shown no policies, strategies or projects to grow the economy.

Persad-Bissessar said Finance Minister Colm Imbert boasted about paying out VAT refunds which is a drop in the bucket to what is owed.

‘When we form the Government, we will amend the VAT Act so you will have a net off effect against your taxes…. Do you want to come here and boast you are paying VAT refunds and doing all these things when you have people in this country who cannot put a plate of food on their table?

 Where there is real suffering in Trinidad and Tobago, so I ask you again where all the money has gone?’ she said.

Persad-Bissessar said she listened in ‘abject astonishment’ to Imbert.

‘My heart was so depressed, my soul, my spirit when I see in this entire $3 billion more you want to spend, nothing for people,’ she said, noting that there are no plans for job creation or to fight crime.

Crime, she said, is at such an all-time high as she pointed out that since the brutal murder of Andrea Bharat, CCTV cameras are yet to be installed.

Crime before cows. 

Persad-Bissessar said she was told Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley went to Aripo to see some animals on a farm.

‘He never went up Aripo when all these daughters of our land, their bodies were found? Never find time to pass, but you going up to see somebody cow,’ she said.

‘What is the purpose of all of these millions when people cannot feel safe in their homes…. I heard a former reporter from Central was dragged out of her home, beaten on her head…she is not the only one, many home invasions, murder, abuse of children, so how is this going to help?’ she asked.

She said she hopes National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds can provide answers.

Persad-Bissessar said the Office of the Prime Minister is asking for almost $60 million in addition to the $559 million appropriated last year.

She said $6 million would be expended on publicity and promotions of the Government’s vision.

‘This is at a time when every single parent in this country is struggling to pay for textbooks and school uniforms to send their children to school,’ she said.

Persad-Bissessar said she was ‘flabbergasted’ that millions have been injected into the Point Fortin Highway Commission of Enquiry, which has not started.

She noted in 2022, estimates that $1.6 million was allocated, and now another $4.2 million was being requested.

‘This is beyond bizarre as far as I am aware; this Commission is yet to do any work,’ she said.