Imbert says Kamla’s claims of $386M missing from the MOF “absolute rubbish”

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Imbert says Kamla’s claims of $386M missing from the MOF “absolute rubbish”

“Absolute rubbish.”
That’s the way the Finance Minister described the claims by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar that $386 million had gone missing from his ministry.

Persad-Bissessar made her allegation at a UNC public meeting in La Horquetta/Talparo on May 6.

However, during a virtual news conference yesterday, Imbert said Persad-Bissessar’s claim was absurd.

He said the UNC posted excerpts from a document on a screen at the meeting and live online to support Persad-Bissessar’s claims.

“What I am seeing, in terms of what was posted on the screen at that Monday night (UNC) forum, is that it is being alleged that documents were not provided to support payments totalling $386 million in 2023, such as expenses connected with international financial institutions, fiscal incentive programmes for farmers and so on.”

Imbert said the only thing this demonstrated was the lack of understanding the UNC has about the operations of a government and its ministries.

“The fact of the matter is that when one does not understand the language in these audit statements, you could mislead yourself and then mislead everybody else.

“When a statement is made that documents are not provided, it does not mean that evidence of the payments was not provided.”

Imbert said, “What may not have been provided are things like cabinet minutes to support authority for the payment. Sometimes, the documents have been actually provided and, therefore, there is a disagreement between the officials and the Auditor General’s department. This is all quite routine and quite standard.”

He added, “I want to say absolutely that every single cent that was spent by the ministry of finance can be accounted for.”

Imbert said Persad-Bissessar “is on a rampage together with others to try to mislead the population into believing that hundreds of millions of dollars have gone up in smoke.”

He also observed there was a lot of commentary in the public domain about the Auditor General’s report on the 2023 public financial statements, which has not been laid in Parliament.

Imbert said the UNC is making claims based on what they claim to be a copy of an unlaid parliamentary report.

The contents of such reports canno
t be published and any such publications are considered a breach of parliamentary privilege. He said, “They (UNC) have been publishing extracts and misleading the population, making scandalous allegations, false allegations, ridiculous statements.”

Imbert added this showed continued irresponsibility and desperation by the UNC for political relevance.

“The opposition does not care about protocol and procedure. They don’t really care. So if they are breaching parliamentary procedure that’s par for the course for them.”