Panday called for Manning to give “a detailed account” of the summit cost at the next sitting of the House of Representatives on May 1.
Browne said Manning gave broad estimates on Tuesday about what the cost for hosting the summit was and those figures “are reasonably accurate”. The Prime Minister said the preliminary total for hosting the summit was $350 million. This includes $120 million to lease the cruise liners Caribbean Princess and Carnival Victory; $126 million to purchase “legacy items” (including $42 million for vehicles); $41 million for national security (motorcycles, closed circuit television cameras) and $8 million for health.
Manning did not mention $28 million which was spent to dredge the Port-of-Spain harbour to accommodate the Princess and the Victory. Works and Transport Minister Colm Imbert provided that figure in the Senate on March 17, in response to a question from Opposition Senator Wade Mark.
“The Prime Minister did not state what was the cost to upgrade Piarco International Airport or the cost for services provided by foreign companies such as GlobeCast (South Africa), Experient (USA) and Excellium (Canada) for the various services which they provided in the run-up to and during the three-day summit,” Panday said.
While a total of $503 million was originally allocated in the 2009 Budget to host the Summit of the Americas and Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Manning said allocation was increased to $632 million. Manning added that not all of the $632 million would be spent to host both summits.
Panday said Parliament was the only legitimate forum where Manning must tell the public how much money was spent to host the Summit of the Americas. He said a question for oral answer about the summit which St Augustine MP Vasant Bharath had on the Order Paper could be re-filed or a new question could be filed with the Clerk of the House. Standing Order 17 states that the question will qualify for answer 21 days after notice of the question was given. Should the UNC go this route, its summit question will be answered by Government sometime in mid-May. Government can also make a statement to the House about the total cost of the summit. Panday said the Opposition wants to know who received contracts during the summit because it believes “the summit was held to share money around.”