After Dr. Roodal Moonilal dropped a bombshell about abuse of office and corruption at TTT last Sunday, the PNM is shamelessly advertising yet another unpaid political broadcast on TTT on Tuesday 8 November.
Dr. Moonilal asked a parliamentary question to Minister of Communications, Symon de Nobriga, requesting a list of all political broadcasts on taxpayer-funded TTT, the payments made, and any payments outstanding, for the last fiscal year, October 2021 to September 2022.
Dr. Moonilal was informed that only PNM political meetings have been broadcast on TTT for the period: in November 2021, November-December 2021, December 2021 (Tobago), April 2022 (Diego Martin), August 2022 (Belmont), and September 2022 (Mount Hope).
The Minister was forced to reveal that no payments to TTT were made by the PNM for these meetings, and the matter of outstanding payments for these unpaid political broadcasts were deemed “not applicable”.
This means that the taxpayers – the victims of the PNM — have been paying for these PNM broadcasts.
That amounts to forcing citizens to pay for the PNM to berate you, give excuses and lie for 3 hours.
Ken Ali, former CEO of CNMG (the predecessor of the current TTT), has recently revealed that when the PP Government took office in 2010, the PNM had an outstanding bill of $800,000 for the 2010 election campaign, which it had refused to honour despite CNMG’s correspondences to Balisier House.
He has also showed several ways that the PNM used CNMG as its plaything, leaving large bills unpaid, sucking taxpayers’ money with no return or benefit, only providing partisan PNM propaganda.
As PRO of the UNC, I had engaged TTT in June 2021 to ask them to broadcast our Monday night Virtual Reports during the pandemic lockdowns.
I was quoted a figure of $45,000 for a one hour broadcast on Mondays from 8-9pm. We told them it was too expensive. However, they would not negotiate a better price when asked.
If we were to use this rate to calculate the amount owed by the PNM to TTT in the 2021-2 fiscal year, given their 3-hour-plus meetings, this would amount to around one million dollars.
This is obvious abuse of taxpayer funds by the PNM.
We will witness that waste tonight. Firstly, only a handful of people will actually be viewing the broadcast, a few hundred at most.
Secondly, the content is guaranteed to be highly partisan, inflammatory, and full of lies and easily-refuted misinformation, which will certainly have to be correct by the UNC in follow-up press releases and briefings.
The operations of TTT must be seen in the context of PNM Governments shutting down our foreign-exchange-earning Caroni (1975) Ltd. and Petrotrin, which were serious, functioning international businesses that could have still been making Trinidad and Tobago foreign income.
What is the PNM justification for keeping TTT open? It surely cannot be that TTT is profitable and making the state money. It is a huge drain on the treasury, sucking up $140 million over the past seven years in annual subventions, in addition to $111 million in capital expenditure to resuscitate the company and $253,000 for a study that recommended CNMG be rebranded as TTT.
The answer is obvious, of course. It is a PNM party propaganda machine which the taxpayers — including political opponents — are forced to fund. This is made even worse by the fact that most of the country does not support the PNM, especially the Rowley incarnation of it.
This is one of the many ways in which the PNM corrupt and bankrupt Trinidad and Tobago.
For Trinidad and Tobago to have any sort of just and prosperous future, PNM must go. And they must go soon.
Dr. Kirk Meighoo
Public Relations Officer
United National Congress