first_img…says monies spent will have to be repaidAt a time when the Government should be in a caretaker mode, the coalition administration is continuing with activities outside of its routine role – something which the Opposition says is an abuse of State resources.During a televised interview last week, President David Granger admitted that as an interim Government, the coalition cannot pass a budget, sign new contracts or agreements, conduct any State visits and would have to limit spending, among other things.“We obviously have to keep Government running; routine functions of Government. I cannot undertake State visits and sign agreements with foreign countries. We have to limit our expenditure. We have to ensure that we do not embark on any controversial projects,” the President had said.Despite this, however, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo pointed out that the caretaker Government is still operating outside its routine functions. One such activity, he highlighted at his weekly press conference on Thursday, was the recent Investors Conference held in Trinidad and Tobago, which Jagdeo said was hosted using large sums of taxpayers’ money in a period when the Government should really be operating in a caretaker role.“They didn’t even do it when they had full powers but suddenly, they decided to go to Trinidad and Tobago and have an investors’ meeting. But what can they promise investors now? Nothing, because they can’t sign agreements and so on,” the Opposition Leader noted.That conference, which was held last week Friday, was also flagged by a Trinidad Member of Parliament, who bashed one of his government ministers for attending the event hosted by the caretaker Government.Nevertheless, Jagdeo went on to say too that the coalition is still spending taxpayers’ monies on its politically-motivated ministerial outreaches.A notice circulating from Government announced another one of the coalition’s “Bring Government to the People” outreach, this time in the Upper Mazaruni region on August 1.The programme details visits of: Indigenous Peoples Affairs Minister Sydney Allicock to Imbaimadai Village and Paruima Village; Minister of State Dawn Hastings-Williams to Jawalla Settlement; Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan to Waramadong Village and Government Member of Parliament Mervin Williams to Kako Village.According to the Opposition Leader, this is a clear abuse of the State’s resources.“Areas they’ve neglected and never been to in four years (while in office), now four ministers are going to the Upper Mazaruni on Cabinet/ministerial outreaches. That is not limiting expenditure and that is not a routine function of the government… Routine functions of the government mean ensuring that the light is on, water keeps flowing, that people get paid – the public servants, etc. – not with ministerial involvement but at the technical level. So they continue to use taxpayers’ money in this manner although the President claims that they should limit expenditure,” he asserted.To this end, Jagdeo posited that the monies spent by the caretaker coalition ministers will have to be repaid if the PPP gets into office since the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) made it clear that the Government should be in a caretaker or interim role and the Head of State has even admitted that his administration is in an interim role with limited authority.“So any minister who goes on these activities that are not consistent with routine functioning of the government or make expenditure and the technical officers who approve these expenditure will have to repay the money. Because we’re gonna take legal actions against any minister and all of the technical officers who approved these expenses. We will either surcharge them or make it a charge against the State’s obligation to them or take legal action because this is an abuse of State resources,” Jagdeo stated.Concerns have been mounting over recent weeks over the coalition’s apparent disregard of the CCJ’s rulings and subsequent consequential orders by insisting that it cannot function with limited authority.In fact, Finance Minister Winston Jordan had received much flack after it was disclosed that he had commenced preparations for a new budget cycle. But on Friday, he explained that while the coalition may not be able to present a national budget this year, preparations are nevertheless being done.“In post-elections, you only have three months to prepare a budget, so you have to do the ground work now. And to end all the noise and so on, in the last elections when the present Government won (in 2015), there was a substantially prepared budget there and we used that. Otherwise, we would not have been able to present budget and even though, we had three months, we presented budget one and a half months ahead of schedule in 2015, and that could only be possible because ground work was done before,” Minister Jordan said.Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeolast_img read more