Legal fees paid during the past PP administration’s tenure did not have to be brought to Cabinet for approval since fees from ministries and State enterprises don’t have to be approved there.
That was Opposition Leader Kamla Persad- Bissessar’s response following attacks on the issue by Government at Tuesday’s PNM Chaguanas meeting.
During the meeting, PNM officials including Prime Minister Keith Rowley took a turn after the PP government on legal fees allegedly paid to private attorneys for State legal brief work then. They also attacked the PP/UNC on alleged corruption related charges recently filed against former PP attorney general Anand Ramlogan and former UNC senator Gerald Ramdeen.
Yesterday, on queries if her Cabinet had approved fees, Persad- Bissessar said, “Not at all, Cabinet doesn’t have to approve legal fees.”
She noted ministries and state enterprises handled fee issues themselves.
On Rowley’s declaration that he was holding Ramlogan and Ramdeen’s issues “firmly” to her, Persad-Bissessar said, “As I indicated in using my former leader’s analogy regarding disciples, the point isn’t about ‘betrayal’ - the point as I said , was, you can’t tell what’s in a person’s heart,”
“If the Prime Minister is ‘holding’ things to people, he’ll also have to own— or be held to— certain issues concerning, for instance, his self -confessed friend in the alleged ‘fake oil’ matter, (Minister ) Marlene (McDonald’s) Calabar Foundation issues, PNM Senator Lester Henry’s guilty conviction on a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge, some who may be getting ready for big payments on Curepe Interchange property — and people he knows well who his Government’s paying million rent for the St Clair property.”
Persad- Bissessar said she wasn’t surprised Government was coming at the UNC.
She said, “ The reaction to some matters in the public domain hasn’t gained the traction they expected— citizens are too busy fighting for survival. So PNM’s meeting just continued their ‘Blame Kamla and the UNC ‘ tirade, they’re forever looking backwards, disconnected from people’s bread and butter issues but for many, it’s dry bread now because people can’t even afford butter!”
Also yesterday, sources responding on the legal fee issue and the AG’s office pointed out that online Finance Ministry draft estimates of recurrent expenditure reports presented in years 2012 to 2017 show that for the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Services, actual figures for ministry goods and services for 2010 to 2015 were: $36.3 million (2010), $78.6m (2011), $104.1m (2012), $103.8m (2013), $118.5m (2014), $117.1m(2015)
-by Gail Alexander