Imbert chides Mark over NIB query

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Finance Minister Colm Imbert. – File photo/Ayanna Kinsale

FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert issued a statement chiding Opposition Senator Wade Mark whom he accused of making misleading statements in the Senate on Tuesday over a National Insurance Board (NIB) report.

Mark had posed a listed question, “In light of the submission of the June 2021 National Insurance Board Report to the minister, can the minister indicate when will the report be tabled in Parliament?”

Minister in the Ministry of Finance Brian Manning rose to reply. “This is an extremely strange question, because the 2021 annual report of the National Insurance Board was laid in the House of Representatives on February 11, 2022, and in the Senate on February 15, 2022.”

Mark said, “What was the reason for the two months and seven days delay for the laying of this very important report, which was due according to law on November 30, 2021?”

Senate President Christine Kangaloo disallowed this question, based on the initial question asked and answer given.

Mark said, “Can the minister tell this honourable Senate when did the Government receive the 2021 report?”

Kangaloo disallowed the question, citing similar reasoning.

Mark said, “Madam President, Can I ask through you, why the report which was due to be tabled on November 30, 2021…Why was it laid two months later?”

Kangaloo again disallowed the question, on the same grounds as twice before.

Imbert later issued a statement headlined, “The laying in Parliament of the 2021 Report of the National Insurance Board was not late or delayed by the Minister of Finance.”

He accused Mark of “misleading and false statements” in repeatedly claiming the report was laid two months after the expiry of the three-month statutory deadline for laying the report.

“Firstly, in complete ignorance or avoidance of the fact that the 2021 NIB Report was laid in Parliament by the Minister of Finance on February 11, 2022, three months ago, Senator Mark asked the minister today to state when the report would be laid.

“When corrected and being reminded that the Report was laid three months ago, he then proceeded to falsely allege that the laying of the report was late and demanded to know the reason why. When that didn’t work, he proceeded to ask when did the minister receive the 2021 report from the NIB, after falsely alleging that the minister had received the report in November 2021.”

Imbert said it was a matter of public record that the report was received by him in January 2022 and laid in the Parliament in February 2022, less than two months after he received it, and long before the expiry of the three-month statutory deadline.

Saying the media had previously published stories on the laying of the NIB report, he accused Mark of wasting Parliament’s time in a cheap and failed attempt to gain political points.