Hosein slams government payment of $1.1b in legal fees

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Saddam Hosein – SUREASH CHOLAI

BARATARIA/ San Juan MP Saddam Hosein slammed Government for spending $1.1 billion on fees to lawyers while allegedly starving the Integrity Commission of funds.

Hosein made his claims during the budget debate in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

He said the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs paid the fees from September 2015-May 2023.

Hosein identified some attorneys by name and the fees paid to them.

They included Fyard Hosein, SC ($28.5 million), Gilbert Peterson, SC ($18 million), Reginald Armour, SC ($17.5 million) and Kerwyn Garcia, SC($14.2 million).

Armour received these fees before he was appointed attorney general last April.

Garcia is the husband of President Christine Kangaloo.

Hosein wondered why Government was putting so much emphasis on paying these fees, but starving the Integrity Commission of resources.

He said compared to a $26 million allocation in 2015, the commission’s allocation in this year’s budget was only $8.6 million.

“Why is the Government starving the Integrity Commission to death? What is their problem with the Integrity Commission?”

Hosein scoffed at plans to increase the number of recruits to the police service. He said this will make no dent against crime because it takes six-nine months to train those recruits.

Hosein recalled the Special Reserve Police (SRP) 1,000 initiative launched by the PNM in 2008 to bolster the ranks of the police service by making 1,000 SRPs regular police officers.

He added that data from the police service indicated that as of August 3, 2022, there are 3,435 SRPs.

Hosein said 1,000 of these officers could be incorporated into the police almost immediately.

He also accused the PNM of taking a page from the playbook of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, to impose its own narrative to make people believe the situation in Trinidad and Tobago is not as bad as they think.

He used crime as an example: “Crime is not that bad. We (the people) complain too much.”

Hosein predicted that the PNM’s expiry date was close and the UNC was certain to form the next government.