… says alcohol is just the tip of the iceberg
In addition to asserting that taxpayers monies are being splurged on expensive alcoholic beverages during various sittings of the National Assembly, Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday followed up by outlining that information has surfaced indicating that Government Ministers have also been splurging on travels, hotel rooms and confectionery, among other items and services.
“We have also been honing in on some other excesses too. For example, in several Ministries we’ve seen an inflation of interior travel and hotel bills and we believe that what is happening is the Government will charter an air craft or book more seats that they require and then they don’t use all of them and then they have more seats and rather than the treasury being reimbursed for the non-use of the seats or hotel rooms, they defer their use and at some point in time they either, individuals or party activists use those flights into the hinterlands and the hotel rooms that are booked,” Jagdeo told media operatives during a conference at his Church Street office on Thursday.
In addition, the former President also posited that his Party is still in the process of confirming that approximately $90,000 is being spent on confectionery for a specific Ministry, per month.
“We have seen figures and we’re just confirming this where one Minister’s office buys about $ 90,000 of confectionery every month,” he said.
Moreover, the Opposition Leader also lamented on the possibility that tax payers are being forced to pay for the medical insurance of Government officials and their families.
“We have heard and we are verifying this now, that the explanation given by Minister Harmon when there was a big outcry about private insurance being contracted for Cabinet members and their families for medical treatment abroad and we were told as a country, the Government and the taxpayers will pay part of the premium and the Ministers were supposed to reimburse the other part of the premium that they had to pay. We gathered no reimbursement took place last year and in fact for this year, the full premium has been paid for these Ministers and their families for medical treatment abroad, using tax payers’ funds again.”
“So there are a ton of other similar things that are happening and the alcohol use in Parliament is the tip of the iceberg,” he further noted, asserting that “it will be interesting to find out what the alcohol use is in some of the Ministries.”
According to Jagdeo, these can easily being verified if an audit is done.
“… because there will be bills available. Hopefully there will be bills available unless they’re using other heads for example they will [use] money from National events to dietary. …[masking] the true level of spending on these things.”
Earlier this month, it was brought to the public’s attention that approximately $700,000 was being spent on food for every sitting at the National Assembly.
Jagdeo had offered his input, highlighting that while he was unsure of the exact number, the cost, which seemed exorbitant, was not being spent on food for the Parliamentarians alone, but that monies were also being spent on alcohol for Parliamentarians in the VIP lounge.
Shortly after his revelation, Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes refuted the Opposition Leader’s assertion, noting that alcohol was only consumed in the Parliament building on special occasions and during the Christmas season.
Today, Jagdeo told media operatives that Hughes was “telling a blatant lie.”
Meanwhile, Clerk to the Parliament, Sherlock Isaacs has denied any knowledge of requests made by Parliamentarians for alcoholic beverages.