Gov’t mum on Jagdeo’s benefits

Government yesterday once again failed to provide answers to questions on the benefits drawn down by former President Bharrat Jagdeo since demitting office in 2011.

As a result, Speaker of the National Assembly Raphael Trotman said he will ask Clerk of the National Assembly Sherlock Isaacs to find out the reason for the delay in providing the information. Last month APNU parliamentarian Desmond Trotman submitted questions for answers by Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh on former president Jagdeo.

The APNU parliamentarian asked about the amount of electricity charges paid for Jagdeo for each month since he demitted office in 2011 up to the end of February 2014.

He also asked about the total health expenses/ claims met under the Former Presidents (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act for the former president and/or his dependents for each month since Jagdeo demitted office in 2012 to the end of February 2014.

Trotman also enquired about the cost of providing transportation (local and overseas) inclusive of cars and drivers, including air cost and by road for Jagdeo and/or his dependents for each month since demitting office to the end of February 2014.

For the same period, he also asked about the monthly cost of providing security for personal and property(s) for the former president.

The Speaker pointed out yesterday that at the last sitting of the Assembly, he was told that the answers would be forthcoming in 12 days, a period which had long elapsed.

APNU’s Trotman told Stabroek News that he would continue to press until the answers are given as the nation has a right to know how its monies are being used.

The Former Presidents (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act passed by the Jagdeo administration was hugely controversial. The extent of the benefits and the length of time over which they will be provided to the former president and other former presidents had evoked public consternation and calls for the measures to be amended.

The opposition, using their majority in parliament, subsequently passed the Former Presidents (Benefits and Other Facilities) (Amendment) Bill 2012 to cap the benefits under the Act but it has not been assented to by President Donald Ramotar.

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