Contributing to the debate on the Senior Citizens Grant Amendment Bill in the House of Representatives, a fiery Warner challenged Opposition members to deny his revelation. “Say no! Say no,” he stressed. The Opposition MPs remained silent.
Rev Pena remains at the centre of a controversy surrounding the construction of the Lighthouse of the Lord Jesus Christ Church, at a cost of $30 million, in the Heights of Guanapo. Her name is on the cornerstone of the church which is not yet completed and on which construction ceased just before the PNM lost the May 24 General Election.
Warner’s allegation came as he chastised the PNM for its mismanagement of the public purse through mega projects during its term in office. This, he insisted, prevented them from adequately addressing the needs of the country’s senior citizens.
Had the People’s Partnership inherited a full Treasury, Warner said, the Partnership would have been able to drop the pension age from 65 to 55 and pay a monthly pension of $5,000. “But, Mr Speaker, I will tell you why we cant’ pay it,” stated the fired-up Chaguanas West MP who was dressed in bright yellow dashiki-type outfit in observance of tomorrow’s Emancipation Day holiday.
Warner referred to a document regarding the Tamana E-Tech Park, which he claimed, highlighted the PNM’s penchant for wild spending. He claimed items on the document were signed by UTT’s former President Ken Julien.
Reading from the document, Warner alleged there were claims for structural steel on the UTT signature building at the Tamana Park to the tune of $60 million. “And there is no explanation whatsoever,” he said. Some $56 million, he claimed, was spent on public safety mechanisms for the three-storey building, while a further $40 million was designated for design coordination and architectural landscaping.
Warner also alleged that $3.5 million had been spent on the redesign of the building’s auditorium, while $13.5 million was earmarked to construct it.
“The bill for that Tamana E-Tech Park has moved from $1.5 billion to $2 billion,” he claimed.
Warner alleged that two companies — Hype Construction and Bhola Construction — formed by workers at the Tamana Park, had been given the contracts. “We shall give you the facts later on,” he said.
Warner, who waded into the contributions of PNM MPs Dr Amery Browne and Alicia Hospedales, said the Government had not fooled the population in identifying the criteria for eligibility for the new pension arrangement as outlined in the Partnership’s manifesto.
He also insisted that contrary to the views of the Opposition, the Government had already fulfilled many of its campaign promises. “We deliver, you demoralise,” he stressed.
Outlining some of its achievements while in office, he said the Prime Minister had taken a five percent pay cut, Government established a Childrens’ Life Fund and farmers affected by flooding had received compensation.
Warner said the new $3,000 a month pension, apart from creating greater independence, would also foster a sense of security and hope. “Senior citizens built the nation and democracy and we must care for them. We cannot rise without our elderly members and will allow all of us to rise together,” he added.