Amidst a pandemic, after the Government refused to debate their response to COVID-19 in the Parliament 5 times, they instead brought a piece of law to amend the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund Act so that they can withdraw money from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund for situations such as COVID-19.
Based on the passage of that law, the Government, in four months withdrew USD $900 million or TT $6.3 billion in the following manner:
15th May 2020 -USD $400 million
23rd June 2020 – USD $200 million
25th August 2020 – USD $300 million
It was thought that the Government would use these withdrawals from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund to fund items such as vaccines, salary relief grants, rental assistant grants, PPE for frontline workers and other necessary items to fight this COVID-19 virus.
According to reports laid in the Parliament, 2 of the withdrawals (in May and June 2020) from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund amounting to TTD$4.2 billion (USD $600 million) were allocated to Ministries and Departments such as NIDCO, HDC, NIPDEC and UDECOTT to pay contractors to cover outstanding bills for goods and services such as rent, security, janitorial, utilities, construction work and other contracted services owed. Instead, the money was used to pay contractors on the eve of the General Elections 2020.
THE GOVERNMENT DID NOT USE THE WITHDRAWALS FROM THE HERITAGE AND STABILISATION FUND FOR COVID-19.
After $6.3 billion has been withdrawn from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund, not a single penny was allocated for vaccines. While Corporate Trinidad and Tobago should be commended for their role in lending support during this pandemic, it is shameless for the Minister of Health to congratulate the business sector, while his Government was plundering billions of dollars from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund.
In a shocking revelation, one conglomerate had to expose the lies of the Government when they were begging private businesses to fund the purchase of vaccines for Trinidad and Tobago.
After Trinidad and Tobago had the opportunity to access free vaccines from India, the Prime Minister instead of being a leader, turned into a wajang. I again congratulate the Opposition Leader for writing the people of India to donate vaccines to Trinidad and Tobago. One must question why the Government was begging businesses to purchase vaccines but refused to access free vaccines from India or use monies from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund to fund the vaccines.
This Government seems to be continuously raiding the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund under the guise of Covid-19 relief, risking the lives of frontline worker without PPE, leaving thousands jobless, citizens without salary relief grants, many homeless without rental assistance grants and the lives of our citizens at risk without vaccines.