Don’t disadvantage the poor and middle class.
That was the Opposition’s appeal to Government yesterday on the eve of today’s 2017 budget delivery.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday expressed confidence the ongoing financial audit of the Life Sport programme would clear or confirm the allegations surrounding the controversial programme. “I am sure that the audit will reveal if there is anything to be concerned about, or if there is nothing to be concerned about. “I see the Ministry of National Security utilising this programme in a way that will make it more effective in the fight against crime,” she said.
But the Prime Minister steered clear of commenting on the tit-for-tat between National Security Minister Gary Griffith and Life Sport programme director Cornelius Prince over the programme. Griffith, in a newspaper article, had alleged several improprieties under the programme, including the payment of some $18 million to Life Sport Carapo co-ordinator Rajaee Ali, a Jamaat-al-Muslimeen member.
However, Prince, who held a media conference at Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, on Monday, with participants of the programme, denied the minister’s allegations, saying the figures quoted in the article were based on a flawed supposition and was a “figment” of Griffith’s imagination. Yesterday, Persad-Bissessar delivered the feature address at the opening ceremony for the $26 million Metal Industries Company Ltd (MIC) Technology Institute at Clarke Road, Penal.
Some 98 certificates of comfort also were delivered to squatter families in Penal during the event. The PM welcomed construction of the facility, which she said was the 17th such centre in T&T. Persad-Bissessar commended Petrotrin and Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine for donating the land for the two-storey facility, which she toured with Tertiary Education and Skills Training Minister Fazal Karim, Land and Marine Resources Minister Jairam Seemungal, Ramnarine and other officials.
She said next year, MIC would open similar centres in Rio Claro and Fyzabad. The Rio Claro MIC centre, she said, would be married with the College of Science Technology and Applied Arts of T&T (Costaatt) to offer training for nurses in South. That, she said, would assist in addressing the “severe shortage of nurses.”