For the past two years Joan Quamina was on a public waiting list for knee replacement surgery. Her other option was to pay $85,000 to have it done privately, which she could not afford.
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NCC will curb VIP freeness—Demas
The National Carnival Commission (NCC) must carefully manage its “hospitality expenses” for Carnival 2014. NCC chairman Allison Demas says the Minister of Finance, Larry Howai, has told the organisation it must control its hospitality expenses, and therefore, she said, it would comply.
Following Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas’ comments that government officials and “a friend or two” were entitled to free access to Carnival events, the T&T Guardian asked Demas to explain exactly how complimentary tickets were distributed. Demas said, via text message, the NCC had up to 1,226 VIP invitees, which matched the seating capacity of VIP boxes in the Grand Stand.
She said these VIP tickets were considered “non-revenue” tickets. She explained that people in VIP areas had access to hospitality lounges, where there were free food and drinks. Howai did not return calls or text messages about the limit for hospitality expenses. Demas added: “NCC hospitality extends to government officials, including all members of Parliament and the Senate, the judiciary, Chief Justice, Court of Justice and public officials.”
Each person was entitled to two complimentary tickets, she said, and certain main office-holders like the Prime Minister, line minister (Douglas) and the Chief Justice were entitled to special VIP box seats at events. When contacted, Douglas said he did not wish to make any further comment on the issue. On Sunday, he was reported as saying he did not see a problem with government officials getting free access to Carnival events and taking friends along.
“I have gone past that comment... call me on something of value,” he said by phone yesterday.