As the Prime Minister made this revelation, sources yesterday said Government’s expenditure for its five-day retreat at the Salybia Nature Resort and Spa could be at least $1 million. Most of this cost is to be attributed to overtime payments to police officers on security detail for the members of the new Government.
Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday said the UNC Alliance would raise the matter of the retreat’s cost in Parliament.
Speaking during a break in yesterday’s session at the Salybia resort, Manning said the retreat was a success and members of the Government have a better understanding of one another and their responsibilities. Explaining that this exercise was important for team-building and leadership, the Prime Minister said additional retreats would be held.
“Not five day sessions but we will have refreshers from time to time as we go along. We need to get together to see where we have gone,”Manning said. The Prime Minister did not say whether Arima MP Pennelope Beckles had accepted the Deputy Speaker post he offered her, or when the Ninth Parliament will be opened or any hints of Government’s legislative agenda.
Sources said a preliminary estimate for the last five days ranges between $328,000 to $369,000 for accommodation and meals at the resort alone. The daily rates inclusive of meals range between $1,600 and $1,800 respectively.
Manning, Minister of National Security Martin Joseph and new Attorney General Brigid Annisette-George are each entitled to police security details, all of which would have been paid overtime. So too would additional police personnel along with soldiers from the TT Regiment. Costs would also have to be determined for the public and private sector professionals who were hired to conduct the work sessions and the medical personnel who were assigned to the resort which is owned by the family of former Sports Minister Roger Boynes.
The retreat ends today and the new Cabinet holds its first meeting at 9 am at Whitehall on Monday. Government officials said they expected most of the participants to leave the resort today.