|Probe Govt jet deal |
By CLINT CHAN TACK Friday, March 7 2008
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MEETING OF THE MINDS: Former PNM Govt Minister Ken Valley (left) had a great time in the company of Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday (second left), THA...
OPPOSITION LEADER Basdeo Panday yesterday called on Government to make a comprehensive statement at today’s sitting of the House of Representatives on details of plans by Caribbean Airlines (CA) to establish a private jet leasing company. He also called for a forensic audit into the matter.
Panday, the Couva North Member of Parliament and a former Prime Minister demanded CA chairman Arthur Lok Jack’s immediate resignation, if such a statement could not be provided by Government to the population.
Dismissing statements made by Works and Transport Minister Colm Imbert at yesterday’s post-Cabinet news conference at Whitehall on the jet issue, Panday said: “This matter involves the expenditure of well over $315 million of public funds.
“It is shrouded in controversy and scandal. While some statements have been made by CA and government officials, they are not providing proper, relevant information.”
Panday said most of the information of the proposed CA private jet service comes from conflicting media reports attributed to unnamed sources concerning Cabinet’s involvement in the matter. The Opposition Leader said if taxpayers have to foot the bill for this jet: “Then they must know what the true overall cost to taxpayers would be now that Government has decided to reserve 600 flight hours per year to ensure that CA does not appear to realise a loss because of this venture.
“Government is accountable to the people through the Parliament and in the interest of accountability, transparency and responsible governance and a respect for the population, the Government has a duty to come to Parliament and make a comprehensive statement that addresses the serious and real concerns of the citizens over the expenditure of over $315 million in what appears to be a very shady situation,” he declared.
“This is clearly a cover-up decision. They want to use it (jet) for private and personal use. They want to live like kings and emperors at the expense of the State. All of this is a lot of foolishness,” he declared.
Panday said Government could not use the excuse of this country hosting the Summit of the Americas and Commonwealth Heads of Government summits next year to acquire an executive jet.