The Opposition has accused the PNM Government of using taxpayers’ money to build houses in four marginal constituencies held by PNM MPs to “voter pad” for elections.
“We have a lot of information on this and a lot to say on it ahead,” UNC Senator Wade Mark told the Senate yesterday.
Mark referred to Government’s Mid-Year Budget Review announcement which allocated $18 million for the Housing Ministry for works under the Housing and Village Improvement Programme. Mark questioned the intent of that programme.
“Is Government using taxpayers’ money to build houses identified by PNM MPs in marginal constituencies to voter/house pad? That’s criminal—the equivalent of misbehaviour in public office.”
He claimed Government has earmarked Moruga, St Joseph, Toco/Sangre Grande and San Fernando West to benefit. He also claimed that a social survey was done and conversations had been held with MPs of those areas to identify needy people in their areas.
Mark challenged the Housing Ministry to dispute his claims.
“They’ve asked MPs to identify needy people to build homes for…you refuse to build houses in Naparima and Princes Town, yet you have $18 million in four PNM marginal seats (for houses). They are using taxpayers’ money to get votes and house-pad in these marginals, how are these constituencies selected?” he asked.
Mark also called for answers on how NCB Global Finance which he said started as a “fly-by-night” firm in 2012 with $115 million in assets now has $350 million in assets and a customer base worth $268 million.
He claimed the company’s CEO is the brother of a senior PNM official.
Mark questioned why a loan of $150 million was made by the firm to Udecott soon after the State company was moved to the Office of the Prime Minister.
“Squatters, security guards and ordinary people don’t benefit from PNM Government, it’s a clique, an economic elite who benefit,” he added.
Mark also called on the Government to clear the air on Atlantic’s Train 1 project after BPTT said it would not have sufficient natural gas to supply it.
“Will this create unemployment and affect economic activity in Pt Fortin?” he asked noting Petrotrin’s closure has already negatively impacted South Trinidad.
Reporter: Gail Alexander