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Defeated TOP candidate queries THA expenditure
Anslem Richards, the defeated Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) candidate for Roxborough/Delaford in the 2013 THA elections is claiming that the Tobago House of Assembly spent more than $2 million on the Emergency Social Assistance Card Programme for January. Richards is crying foul saying the expenditure was to buy votes for the PNM, leading up to the THA elections.
Speaking with the T&T Guardian, Richards said the sum of $2,224,941.20 was spent by the THA during the period January 9 to 23, 2013, on the Emergency Social Assistance Card Programme. He said that 4,000 Tobagonians were the beneficiaries of the cards valued at $500 each.
Richards further stated that the actual sum total of the cards was $2 million, while $224,941.20 was paid to the bank for administrative fees, production of the cards and management of the account. He is therefore questioning the Orville London-led administration as to the motive for the expenditure.
“I am asking the question to the administration of the Tobago House of Assembly what has happened between the 9th of January and the 23rd of January that created this massive social emergency that 4,000 Tobagonians required Social Emergency Assistance? What was the social catastrophe that we experienced in Tobago?” he questioned.
Richards is seeking information from the Chief Secretary, as to the criteria used for the card distribution as it was distributed in the heights of the THA election. He implied that it was a method to buy votes for the incumbent PNM.
“One has to take this in the context that we had an election on the 21st of January and whether this is evidence of vote banking at the expense of the people of Tobago, because this is passing strange that within two weeks of an election that the assembly would have issued 4,000 Social Emergency Cards to Tobagonians at $500 each at the cost of $2million,” he said.
Richards said he has documented evidence to support his claims. He said he received a letter and a billing invoice in his mail dated January 23, 2013, addressed to Chief Administrator Dr Ellis Burris. He said the document was allegedly generated out of the Division of Finance and was signed by Paul Thomas, Administrator of the Division of Finance.
He said he has many questions for the Executive Council of the THA, including who were the 4,000 Tobagonians who received the cards; what were the criteria used to determine who got the cards; and the reason for the massive expenditure within 14 days.
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