How can a Commission of Enquiry cost an exorbitant sum of money without any meetings being held? That’s the question raised by Opposition MP Roodal Moonilal, after Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young revealed that the State has so far spent $11.6 million on the Commission of Enquiry into the Solomon Hochoy Highway expansion project.
During the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament on Friday, Minister Young was asked to provide an update on the CoE.
He said: “So far, the taxpayers expected $3,196,000 in fees and then other expenses, approximately 8 million dollars, so a total so far of fees and other expenses of 11.6 million dollars.”
However, in a media statement a short while after the information was released, Dr Moonilal referred to it as the “Stillborn CoE.”
He said the stunning revelation by Minister Young that the enquiry cost taxpayers $11 million without holding a single meeting “is another example of gross wastage by the failed Rowley regime.
“Is this a case of ‘ghost meetings?’ Eleven million dollars is a lot for tea and sandwiches! This is madness, unacceptable and intolerable when hospitals go without critical medications and equipment,” Moonilal said.
The Oropouche East MP said the Government must provide a complete breakdown of spending on goods and services for this commission that has seen one scandal after another.
He said members have changed, timelines have changed and the terms of enquiry have changed.
“Failing that, there should be an independent enquiry into the stillborn COI that has setback hard-pressed taxpayers such a whopping sum without lifting a finger,” he said.
The Government announced the Commission of Enquiry in 2019, as it said more than half a billion dollars was allegedly spent on land acquisition for the highway extension project under the People’s Partnership.
The enquiry is being chaired by retired Justice Sebastian Ventour.