“They are using public funds for party patronage, and the Constitution does not permit anybody to scrutinise them,” Panday said. “It is only by accident that people find these things out. For example, in housing there are reports that PNM hacks are getting the houses. These are the kind of things people have to endure. It is not going to end until there is a change to the Constitution which allows the Government to be put under greater scrutiny.”
Last month, the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs disclosed a list of scholarships it had awarded from 2003 to 2007 to Devant Maharaj of the Indo-Trinbago Equality Council (ITEC).
In 2008, Culture Minister Marlene Mc Donald had refused to reveal the information arguing that she was unable to do so under the Freedom of Information Act. However State lawyers released the information under the same Act after Maharaj took the matter to court. To date, the list has still not been made public.
Opposition Senator Wade Mark, who was the senator who filed questions asking Mc Donald to reveal the information in the Senate, yesterday warned that Mc Donald’s conduct amounted to utter contempt.
“I appeal to the government to let us not continue to treat this parliament with utter contempt. I am a parliamentarian, and I had to go outside to beg a person who is not in parliament for the information in response to a question I placed on the order paper. It is disrespectful,” Mark said during debate on a motion about the plight of former sugar cane industry workers.
“I don’t understand why we as parliamentarians continue to short-change ourselves. Here it is we are debating a motion to get help for cane farmers and I recall raising a question in this parliament on the issue of scholarships, and nobody could supply me with answers. It was a secret,” he said.