Princes Town MP Barry Padarath posed two questions to members of the government in his contribution to the budget debate last night. Padarath asked for the Ministers or the Prime Minister to clarify whether it was true that the government was exploring cutting 8,000 placements from the OJT program as part of their restructuring exercise. Padarath also asked whether any Minister or the Prime Minister had viewed additional pieces of Cazabon paintings this week for government to make purchase. Padarath said that he was reliably advised that plans were afoot for the jobs cuts in OJT as well for the purchase of additional Cazabon paintings.
The Princes Town MP stated that the information floating in the public domain is worrisome to the young people of the country especially at a time when there have been layoffs across the board in every sector. He asked whether the Prime Minister’s admission that the government failed to keep its promise in the 2016 budget statement of a 20% stipend increase for OJTs was a sign that the government really intended to make significant changes to the program.
Padarath stated that during harsh financial times while there is no medicine in the nation’s hospitals, he was deeply concerned that the government was looking at making further purchases of Cazabon paintings. He said if this additional purchase is true, the government would have once more betrayed the trust of the people of Trinidad and Tobago to out their fundamental needs first.
During his budget contribution, Padarath spoke on behalf of Johnny Gonsalves who started the online petition of thousands who suffer from cancer. Padarath juxtaposed the cost of several cancer drug treatments like Zodiac which cost 4,500TTD per unit against the 90 million TTD spent on the Brian Lara stadium.
Padarath indicated that Zodiac among several other medications were not available in the nation’s hospitals of cancer patients and had the government spent the 90 million on purchasing zodiac instead of the stadium the hospitals would have had 200,000 units in its stock. Padarath criticized the government for placing priorities on vanity projects instead of dealing with the issues in the nation’s schools, hospitals, police stations etc.