(Trinidad Express) Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday denied that her three nephews and her sister, Vidwatie Newton, have ever used her official car, PM 1.
Persad-Bissessar was responding to allegations made by Opposition MP Marlene McDonald who charged yesterday that the Prime Minister’s sister and three “foreign” nephews were living at the official residence in St Ann’s, being transported in the fleet of the cars attached to the residence and living generally at taxpayers’ expense as a consequence.
Mc Donald made the statement during a press conference at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, Charles Street, Port of Spain.
Questioned on the allegations at AmCham T&T’s 19th Annual General Meeting held at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, Port of Spain, Persad-Bissessar said: “My sister did stay with me, my nephews visit from time to time.”
Pressed further on whether they lived with her at the official residence, she stated: “They visit from time to time. My sister stayed with me, yes.”
On the use of the official vehicles, she said: “There is no official car. There are vehicles attached there (to the PM’s residence). No, No, they have never used PM 1.”
“In fact, that vehicle is solely reserved for the Prime Minister or the Acting Prime Minister”, she added.
Earlier, speaking at the Opposition’s bi-weekly news conference, McDonald said her mailbox was being bombarded with “so much documentation” on the “scandalous use” of the Prime Minister’s official residence.
She said she wanted to ask the Prime Minister why was she not residing at the official residence where security and other systems were in place to accommodate her and why was she holding/hosting official government meetings at her private residence in Phillipine, South Trinidad.
McDonald alleged that the Prime Minister was using a National Security helicopter to commute.
She alleged that the Prime Minister’s sister and her two adult children as well as another nephew (the child of another sister), were living at the residence and being maintained at considerable State expense.
Their board and lodging, meals were being met by the taxpayers and they were being transported in the fleet of cars assigned for the exclusive use of the Prime Minister, she added.
McDonald, who used the term “it is alleged” before each sentence, claimed that the Prime Minister’s sister and nephews also enjoyed State security.
“They have all the trappings according to the Prime Minister,” she said, noting that none of the nephews was a citizen of this country.
She said this “abuse of the Prime Minister’s residence” was unprecedented and this management style was reminiscent of Ferdinand Marcos (Filipino dictator), Papa Doc (former president of Haiti) and Benazir Bhutto (former Pakistani prime minister).
McDonald said if the Prime Minister failed to provide a satisfactory response, she planned to file questions in Parliament on the issue.