Indarsingh: $150M flood relief sum “pathetically reactionary” and could have been averted

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Indarsingh: $150M flood relief sum “pathetically reactionary” and could have been averted

Couva South MP, Rudy Indarsingh, has chastised government for its $150 million in flood relief, saying it was “too little, too late.”

In a statement on Friday, Indarsingh said, “The Prime Minister’s announcement of $40 million to the National Flood Relief Programme, $100 million for road rehabilitation and landslide repair and $10 million for agricultural relief does little in inspiring confidence that this crisis is being urgently attended to.”

He said the Opposition had long pleaded with the Government to remedy landslips, crumbling roads and collapsing bridges. The relief sum was “pathetically reactionary” and could have been averted if Rowley heeded the Opposition’s calls for effective, proactive and quality repairs in regions suffering water damage and soil movement for the past seven years.

Indarsingh said the sum of $100 million was questionable, given the vast extent of urgent work needed today and how the costs of building materials, labour and technical fees had recently escalated.

He said “the hopes of any family of receiving assistance to rebuild the pieces of their lives after the major losses over the last week are doused by this Government’s track record of promising relief and grants in a knee-jerk manner, while failing to ensure that these grants and relief funds are distributed in a timely and urgent sense.”

Indarsingh alleged that during the covid19 pandemic, the Government’s salary relief and rental assistance grants took up to a year to reach recipients, while after the great flooding of 2018, some households waited months to get grants, with many still waiting today.

He said recent reports of $50 million in fraud at the Ministry of Social Development raised the potential now for fraud with flood relief funds.

Indarsingh likened Dr Rowley to a hare, in being quick to speak, but also to a tortoise, in being slow to act.

“The sum of $10 million is of little hope to farmers in the face of a government that has flippantly ignored the constant pleas for the raising of river embankments, the provision of pumps and sluice gates, the proper dredging of waterways and the timely need for loss mitigation in wake of the upcoming Christmas season.

“The announcement of this $150-million package is way too little, way too late and comes from a government that is quick to make promises for the purpose of public relations, but slow to execute for the purpose of real relief, and untrustworthy in the allocation of resources, since in the past, their friends and party card-holders are moved to the front of the line, often undeservingly, while citizens in genuine need of help are left to suffer.”

Indarsingh called on the Government to set up a national infrastructure rehabilitation programme, in collaboration with the Opposition and all municipal corporations, so these allocated funds could be spent in a transparent, urgent and multi-partisan manner.