Circumstances “permitting,” there will be no cuts in the CEPEP labour force or contractors, said Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein yesterday.
Hosein said if the need arises, it may be reviewed, “but as of today there will be no cuts”. He stressed this during yesterday’s Standing Finance Committee scrutiny of the 2020 Budget.
Both were replying to queries from UNC MP Roodal Moonilal on whether there’d be cuts in CEPEP’s labour force or contractors in the coming year.
But Moonilal had said of Hosein’s responses, “That’s a ‘Petrotrin’ assurance.”
Moonilal had asked Hosein if he could give an assurance that he wouldn’t give a “Petrotrin assurance” on the matter—a reference to controversial statements Government had made on the company’s closure.
Moonilal noted increased CEPEP wages and for contractors as well as a decreased CEPEP subvention. He asked if the ministry would seek more funding to satisfy CEPEP needs. Hosein said, “If the need arises...in the mid-year review next April.”
Hosein was grilled by UNC MPs about funding for water/trucking services. UNC Princes Town MP Barry Padarath said his area had major water trucking service problems and suppliers refused to provide services in the last year due to arrears. He noted the Princes Town corporation provided for areas up to Moruga and Naparima which had been pressed for water.
Hosein, who initially couldn’t comment, said he wasn’t aware of this water trucking arrears. But he said he’d liaise with the corporation’s chairman and if arrears have to be paid “it will be” and in the midterm review the ministry would apply for more money.
Naparima MP Rodney Charles added, “Up to (yesterday) I’ve gotten calls from people all over my area—Garth Road, Iere etc— complaining of water not being available and suppliers don’t want to supply us also due to arrears. Given the fact that reservoirs are low and the next dry season hasn’t started, is the current allocation enough to cater to the expected 2020 drought?”
Hosein said, “We’ll use what we have and if we need more, we’ll apply for money from the mid-year review.”
Imbert added, “In 2019, Princes Town corporation got 95 per cent of its allocation for water trucking and its allocation is increased by 50 per cent for 2020 and there’s a 50 per cent increase for water trucking.”
Charles said, “Given the realities on the ground, this allocation is entirely inadequate.”
UNC MP Christine Newallo-Hosein also said some communities sorely need truck-borne water since they don’t have pipe-borne supply and some water trucks hadn’t been paid $150,000. Hosein acknowledged in Sangre Grande areas where water isn’t available, water trucking is needed and if arrears have to be paid, they will be.
Padarath said Princes Town corporation had been seeking relocation to a new building for three years and recommendations were made this year for two buildings.
Hosein said he knew they were seeking a building but hadn’t gotten one and he wasn’t aware of the recommendations.
Padarath said the letter on that was sent to and acknowledged by the ministry in April.
Hosein said each corporation was allocated $1 million for Local Government reform transformation regarding municipal police and $4 million was allocated for the Local Government Ministry for Local Government reform transformation.
Hosein said it was intended 100 municipal police would be recruited in each corporation save Port-of-Spain which will have 200, “We’ve started recruitment- there’s 199 in the first batch, 299 in a second and next Thursday another batch of 200 is coming out.”
There’s also an increase of $23 million allocated for arms and ammunition for municipal police in 10 corporations.
On queries about limited funding, he said some corporations apply for funds “late.”
Story by GAIL ALEXANDER
Image by NICOLE DRAYTON
Image caption: Rural Development and Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein, left, and Chaguanas East MP Fazal Karim share a light moment before the start of the Standing Finance Committee in Parliament yesterday.