Minister of Rural Development and Local Government Faris Al-Rawi.
RURAL Development and Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi said his ministry is working as quickly as it can to address requests from all 14 local government corporations in Trinidad to deal with flooding.
He made this comment on Tuesday in response to claims from Penal/Debe Regional Corporation (PDRC) chairman Dr Allen Sammy and his councillors about being starved of funding and other resources to address Monday’s flooding.
“We have been actively working with all corporations to get their requests properly made in a timely fashion.”
But Al-Rawi said, “I have noticed from data gathered that many corporations are very delayed in even making their requests, to the point where I have held meetings with every corporation on the issue of arrears and delays in expenditure.”
“The ministry has one request for release of funds by by Penal/Debe Regional Corporation, and it in fact for short-term employment.”
He gave details of that request: “The council of the (PDRC) approved the virement of $1,100,000.00 on May 18, 2022, to facilitate short-term employment under recurrent services.”
The PDRC asked for the input of the ministry’s audit on this virement on July 18.
“The virement documents were sent by the PDRC to the MRDLG (Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government) on July 26, 2022.”
Al-Rawi approved the virement on August 4.
“The approved request for the release of $1,100,000.00 was sent to Budget Division, Ministry of Finance, by the MRDLG via memo dated August 5, 2022.”
He said the accounting personnel at the PDRC have been liasing with budget analyst Edwin St John over the release of this money over the last two weeks. The funds will be available within the first two weeks in September.
Al-Rawi said, “It is a normal practice that releases would be made to the PDRC at such times to facilitate the payment of all daily-rated workers.”
He anticipated no problems in this regard.
Al-Rawi also said funds for paying daily-rated employees at the PDRC for August 2022 have been released to the corporation.
“The PDRC has the full support of the ministry and its minister, as do all the municipal corporations in Trinidad.”
He said the ministry’s personnel are out in the field across Trinidad, dealing with all areas affected by Monday’s rain and subsequent flooding.
“We are addressing all issues as reported to us, equipment deployed and clean up in gear, assessment by DMUs (disaster management units) and co-ordination with other ministries in terms of relief.”
As an example, Al-Rawi said he personally received a call from the principal of the Debe Hindu Primary School about flooding there.
He said within 28 minutes of receiving that call, ministry personnel were at the school cleaning up mud and silt left behind by the floods.