A question on the post-presidency expenses of former President Bharrat Jagdeo is due to come up again for answer at Thursday’s sitting of the National Assembly.
The question has been posed by APNU MP Desmond Trotman and is to be answered by Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh.
The question had appeared on a previous order paper but was inexplicably not answered even though another question on the cost of President Donald Ramotar’s overseas trips was answered.
Trotman had pledged to ensure that the question was answered, Trotman is seeking to find out what is the electricity charge paid under the controversial 2009 Former Presidents (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act for Jagdeo since he left office in 2011 and up to February 28th, 2014.
He is also seeking to determine the total health expenses/claims met under the act for former Jagdeo and/or his dependents between the period that he left office and up to February 28th, 2014. In February this year, Jagdeo had to be flown to the US for medical treatment on a specially chartered flight. It was unclear who paid for that flight but observers had said that local taxpayers should not have to foot the bill if the treatment was available locally. Neither Jagdeo nor the government released any information on this.
Trotman also wants to know the cost of providing transportation, both local and overseas, inclusive of cars and drivers and including air and road costs for Jagdeo and/or his dependents in the aforementioned period.
Finally, Trotman is seeking to learn the cost of providing security to Jagdeo and for his properties for the same period.
The Former Presidents (Benefits and Other Facilities) Act has been highly controversial as critics say it contains benefits for Jagdeo and other former Presidents which are extravagant and cannot be afforded by the country. An acrimonious battle on this bill in Parliament ended with the opposition forcing through a bill to cap the benefits. The bill was passed on January 25th, 2013 but President Donald Ramotar has refused to sign it.