COUVA North MP Ramona Ramdial, who is Opposition spokesman on Tobago, claimed Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Finance Secretary assemblyman Joel Jack, in his budget speech on Monday,did not give details of spending on combating covid19 in Tobago.
On Tuesday she told Newsday her pre-budget queries voiced on Sunday remained unanswered after Monday’s budget.
Ramdial said the THA must answer questions left unanswered at the recent sitting of the House of Representatives Standing Finance Committee.
She said an allocation to the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) included $5 million for covid19 training and public awareness, $16 million for PPE and other resources and $23 million for employment.
As to these costs, Ramdial asked how many people in Tobago were tested for covid19 and how many were positive.
“How many workers were trained for covid19 at the cost of $5 million? How many PPE suits were purchased for $16 million? How many additional workers were hired for covid19 at a cost of $23 million?”
Ramdial said the TRHA has said it is $96 million in debt, with a payroll commitment of $49 million.
“It is also noteworthy to inform the public that an audit done by Aegis Business Solutions into the hiring of employees at TRHA found nine per cent of the workforce to be ‘ghost employees.’ This nine per cent accounts for more than 90 ghost workers at the TRHA!”
She asked for the true size of the TRHA workforce, and whether more people would be hired during the election season at a cost of $23 million.
Ramdial warned that if the THA was not transparent and accountable to Tobagonians, it risked being labelled as puppets, dancing to the decisions of the Prime Minister and ignoring the plight of the Tobago people.