Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says he will be seeking the Cabinet’s input regarding a request to remove Value Added Tax (VAT) from literary texts.
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Hadeed angry over Opposition ‘rat’ picong
Tourism Affairs Minister Gerald Hadeed lost his cool in the Senate yesterday when he received picong from the Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) about “rats.” This occurred just as Hadeed rose to answer an Opposition question on the agenda. Reporters recently sought answers from Hadeed after a tape was leaked on which a voice resembling a minister’s is heard complaining about people in Government and some being “rats.”
Businessman Inshan Ishmael claimed to have made such a recording some time ago before the speaker was in Government, but there has been no verification. Before yesterday’s Senate sitting, the T&T Guardian had attempted to get a comment from Hadeed on the tape. He declined to have his comment taped, saying, “I ent talking into no tape recorder...no.” During question time, as Hadeed rose to reply, a PNM senator remarked, “Rats.”
Hadeed, his voice rising, told the PNM bench, “Careful, don’t go there, because you know where they have all them rats, so don’t let me...Don’t go down that road with me! Don’t go down that road with me, because I’ll tell you how much rats you have.”
Hadeed, replying to the initial Opposition question, confirmed that Tourism Permanent Secretary Juliana Johan-Boodram and seven other officials of the ministry and the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) had attended a June 6, 2013, media awards luncheon for Caribbean Week, an annual regional tourism venture. Boodram is currently at the center of a controversy over whether her trip to Argentina for a friendly football match between the hosts and T&T had been authorised.
Hadeed said the total cost of the government package paid by the Tourism Development Company Ltd, including the luncheon, was $51,520. This included booths, workshops for the event, registrations, a full-page ad and tickets to an investment forum. He said the cost of the ministry’s participation at Caribbean Week was $81,528. Hadeed noted that representation at the same venture by the PNM administration totalled $241,070 from 2007 to 2009.
Hadeed said the CTO venture yielded results for T&T, since there had been an increase in tourism arrivals, including daily Jet Blue flights from Miami plus a US cruise ship visit by 3,000-4,000 people.