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Jack Warner launched his fiercest attack to date on the People’s Partnership Government last night, calling for investigations into the PM’s Christmas Fund, the Children’s Life Fund, a minister’s purchase of a house in Hamilton, Canada at a cost of Can$800,000 and the purchase of a BMW by the same minister for his daughter to attend MacMaster University.
He said the brother of the same “cabal minister” was unemployed in 2010 and today “is a big contractor in T&T, building play parks all over the country at ridiculously inflated prices.” Warner, while vowing not do anything to bring down the Government, also spoke about alleged financial impropriety by the United National Congress’ candidate for the July 29 by-election in Chaguanas West, Khadijah Ameen.
Warner also displayed a purported picture of Ameen “playing with money” during his public meeting at Marchin Recreation Ground, Jerningham Junction, Cunupia. In it Ameen and another woman appeared to be holding $100 bills and sitting behind a birthday cake surrounded by more $100 bills. “This little girl is playing hokey-pokey with people’s money as if it were Monopoly [money],” he said.
Warner said he knew where the money was coming from, but, unlike the PM, he refused to sanction it. He also said he had 13 other pictures, which were “most sordid.” The former national security minister said he wanted to know where the money collected for the Christmas Fund had gone claiming one businessman had contributed over $27 million to it. This matter should be investigated, he said, along with an alleged donation of $5 million from a former chairman of Caribbean Airlines (CAL) to the Children’s Life Fund.
He criticised the PM for calling him a lagahoo. Warner also said the treatment of the Congress of the People within the partnership would affect the Government negatively. It was unfair to appoint Marlene Coudray as a full minister, he charged, while Arima MP Rodger Samuel is merely a minister in the Office of the Prime Minister.
The former UNC chairman said in 2010, Samuel “fought a bruising election and against all odds he won.” He wanted to know how Dr Surujrattan Rambachan could hold two mega-ministries while “none could be found for Samuels.” Warner also asked how portfolios could have been found for ministers Bhoendradatt Tewarie, Ganga Singh and Devant Maharaj while none was given to Samuel.
“This smacks of inequity of bias and is wrong,” Warner said. “It is actions like these, regardless of what the COP leadership is saying that are tearing the COP membership apart.” He said to keep the People’s Partnership intact, “All parties within the partnership must be treated as equal.” Warner said that point was not understood by Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Lincoln Douglas, who said, “Who want to go could go.” Warner said Douglas “will pay a price for that foolish statement sooner rather than later.”
He described his by-election rival Ameen as “the cabal’s sacrificial lamb.” Ameen is the former chairman of the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation. Warner said an audit done by an internal auditor on the corporation showed there had been duplication of vouchers and documents identifying expenditure not recorded on monthly statements. Ameen’s driver, he claimed, was grossly overpaid.
Claiming the corporation’s Chairman’s Special Fund Account “seems to be a slush fund,” he wanted to know why the fund had not been subjected to an audit from October 2011 to the present. He said casinos were making large contributions to that fund. Questionable contracts, he claimed, were being offered to SIS contractors.
Warner also called on the PM to “account for the $27 million which Cabinet approved to be spent on a one-night concert on August 31 at the Queen’s Park Oval during the 50th Anniversary of Independence last year.” Warner told Persad-Bissessar he would “not remind the public of the $300,000 your employee lost prior to the 2010 general elections in a car driven by one of your drivers after it left the Centre of Excellence.” He said he did not want to speak about how many “more cars left with money.”