Strange, but true. A post office in Newtown, port-of-Spain has now taken the shape of a car park meant for a private casino. PEOPLE’S National Movement (PNM) Diego Martin North/East MP Colm Imbert has raised the issue very strongly. He has asked the Public Utilities Minister, Mr. Emmanuel George to clarify his stand in this regard. In fact, during July 1, 1999 to December 2001, the former United National Congress (UNC) Government did not vest about 56 properties to TTPost for which clarification has been sought from Mr. George who said that the Newton Post office was not in the interest of the residents due to its adverse effect on them. Hence, TTpost was forced to get rid of it and use the place as a car park instead, for which it received a considerable amount as rent. The Local Government Minister Chandresh Sharma favored Mr. George but Mr. Imbert rejected his plea, saying that Mr. George was the person responsible to take appropriate action and charged him for his inaction, saying that he was the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Public Utilities at the time.
Mr. Imbert expressed concern over the matter and wondered how a public post office could turn into a car park for a private casino. He enquired about the procedures under which it happened so. While speaking in favor of Port-of-Spain North/St Ann’s West MP Patricia McIntosh in a debate on the TT Postal Corporation Amendment Bill 2012, Mr. Imbert asked the Minister to conduct an inquiry and provide clarifications to the Parliament before deliberations on the bill come to any conclusion. He further asked whether any sort of compensation was provided to the State against use of this Government valuable property by a private casino.
Mr. Imbert referred to the quotes from the report of Auditor General of September 2005, made pubic in 2009, which said that there was no evidence of the property having been vested in favor of the TTPost. Mr. George tried to clarify his stand saying that he was in the office from 2009 to 2010 and had signed off on TTPost’s 2006 and 2007 audited statements for scrutiny by the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, to be chaired by Mr. Imbert. Financial statements for the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 are also nearing completion, said Mr. George.
Taking his stand during the debate, Mr. George added that the Government would support the TTPost by way of $40 million. He said that the TTPost would be benefited by a cost saving of $284,000 through vesting of these properties and the company would get the benefit of increased monthly retail returns of $20,000. The Couva South MP Rudy Indarsingh stood by Mr. George. He favored the Government saying that it has the true intention and political will to deal with the situation whereas the PNM predecessors had just kept silent over the issue.
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