Moonilal: UDeCOTT Trying to Bamboozle Taxpayers

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By Sue-Ann Wayow

THE Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDECOTT) is attempting to bamboozle taxpayers by fudging the facts and covering up the truth regarding the prime minister’s residence in Blenheim, Tobago.

This according to Member of Parliament for Oropouche East Dr Roodal Moonilal.

Dr Moonilal, a former minister of housing and urban development is calling on UdeCott’s chairman Noel Garcia to come clean on the exact cost of the construction of the prime minister’s residence on the sister isle.

In a statement on Tuesday, Dr Moonilal said that Garcia’s figures at a press conference that same day contradicted those made in Parliament on May 19, 2020, by then-minister Franklin Khan who has now passed on.

Khan in response to a question asked by Opposition Senator Wade Mark said that the total cost associated with the demolition and rebuilding of the residence was $17.5 million.

Dr Moonilal said, “In presenting alternative figures, Mr Garcia has disputed those by Mr Khan, a former chairman of the PNM, who is now deceased. Mr Garcia must now tell the nation whether he is saying that Mr Khan lied when he responded to questions during a meeting of the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament.”

He continued, “Furthermore, the information presented to the Standing Finance Committee (SFC) during the budget debate by the Office of the Prime Minister, the parent Ministry of UDeCOTT sited the certified works to date at $48.7 million with a further $15.5 million in unpaid balances. Is the OPM deceiving the Parliament?”

Dr Moonilal said, “With respect to the Tobago residence, Mr Garcia must provide a full account to taxpayers and explain the difference in figures with that presented by Mr Khan.”

He said that was yet another example of the Rowley Government being “fast and loose with the public purse,” even in the face of steep unemployment and grinding poverty.

Garcia at the press conference in Port-of-Spain said Dr Moonilal and Opposition Senator Wade mark were spreading inaccurate financial information about the cost of the residence which he said was revised to $37,134,000.

Garcia said, “For some strange reason, they are intent on mischief… because I can only describe what is happening as mischief… Your numbers are not adding up.”

In response to Garcia’s calculations, Dr Moonilal said, “With respect to Mr Garcia’s unwarranted attack on me, I wish to advise him that I earned the highest grades in mathematics studies.”


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