Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 16th 2015 Contents Sport and Youth Affairs Min-
ister Darryl Smith says he has
apologised to Opposition MP
Barry Padarath for refering to
him as a "princess" during last
Saturday s Budget debate in
Parliament and he is now also
apologising to the Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual and Transgender
(LGBT) community if anyone
was offended by his comment.
Smith s remark prompted
Padarath to declare he would
not be bullied and it also caused
a firestorm of criticism on social
media, among non-governmen-
tal organisations and the Coali-
tion Advocating for Inclusion of
Sexual Orientation (Caiso)
group, lobbyists for the LGBT
community in T&T.
Asked yesterday by reporters
about the negative reaction on
the issue and apologies, Smith
said at the tea break of yester-
day s Finance Committee meet-
ing in Parliament: "Myself and
the MP (Padarath) shook hands
and I apologised to him...it hap-
pened in the tea room of the
Parliament and we move on and
get things done."
He said the apology took place
shortly after the incident.
Asked what the remark was
meant to convey, if it was a joke,
slip or what, Smith confirmed
meaning to say Padarath s con-
stituency Princes Town. He also
said he had apologised right after
Asked by T&T Guardian if he
would now also apologise to the
LGBT community, Smith said:
"Certainly, I apologise if I have
offended anyone. I have apol-
ogised to Barry and we are okay
and I apologise if anyone took
offence; if they did, it was not
meant to offend anyone." (GA)
Friday, October 16, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Finance Minister Colm Imbert and
Opposition Members, including former
prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar
"butt heads" in yesterday s Parliamentary
Finance Committee session on Tobago
House of Assembly expenditure when
Imbert repeatedly rebuked the Opposition
for asking him questions about THA
expenditure based on 2015 estimates.
Imbert repeatedly told Opposition MPs
they had been in government then and
"should know" and that he would provide
information in writing later.
Chairman of proceedings, House Speaker
Bridgid Annisette-George, frequently had
to "pull" Imbert up when he muttered com-
plaints or voiced blunt disapproval of ques-
When Persad-Bissessar questioned $50
million spent in 2015 on a Shaw Park Cul-
tural Complex, Imbert said if she had met
THA requests to meet the THA, the issue
might have been clear.
When UNC MP Suruj Rambachan ques-
tioned large THA contract labour costs,
Imbert said he would get the response but
saw "no difference between that and what
the UNC did in Trinidad... you had thou-
sands," he retorted.
UNC s Tim Gopeesingh expressed con-
cern that with Imbert s answers "everything
is in writing."
He said proceedings were open to tele-
vision viewers and the public was being
robbed of the details of issues. He called it
a "cover up," a term Annisette-George sug-
gested he replace. Gopeesingh said the sit-
uation was less than transparent.
When Opposition Whip Roodal Moonilal
asked Imbert to explain a THA $1 million
figure which was revised to $17 million,
Imbert said he would try, "but you should
know, you paid for it."
After Moonilal sought a breakdown of
certain 2015 figures, Imbert said it was
"unconscionable" for the UNC to ask the
Government to explain what happened in
2015 under their watch when the PNM had
been the government for only a few weeks.
Moonilal at another point remarked that
Imbert "in his arrogant way had replied to
another query. To which Imbert retorted:
"What is this about arrogant? Who more
arrogant than you?"
Persad-Bissessar queried the chairman s
move to disallow a "general" question by
UNC MP Bhoe Tewarie since Annisette-
George said general queries had to be in line
with Budget items. Persad- Bissessar said
the query was disallowed before MPs heard
it. Tewarie told the media he felt the chair-
man needed to show a little more flexibil-
ity. He said the Opposition had the right to
seek variances or amendments but without
proper probe of issues, he couldn t see the
need for the committee.
"They need to understand that being in
charge means taking responsibility and being
accountable," he added.
Government House leader Camille Robin-
son-Regis said Government was being asked
about periods when the PP was in office.
She said Imbert wasn t being difficult but
was being "the same as you have known
him in government in the last 20 years."
T&T Manufacturers Association (TTMA) president
Rolph Balgobin has estimated that the "overhang"
in demand for US currency is between US$200 and
US$400 million, even as the chief executive of a
major financial institution has described the periodic
shortages of foreign exchange as a "crisis."
The estimate of the unmet demand for US dollars
comes in the wake of news that T&T s foreign exchange
reserves declined by US$942 million for the first eight
months of the year.
It follows the Finance Minister Colm Imbert s state-
ment in the budget speech that he will request the
Central Bank to clear the backlog of arrears of foreign
exchange demand, ensure that legitimate demands
for foreign exchange are met, as well as ensure the
stability of the exchange rate.
Balgobin said if the unmet demand was to be cleared
it might rectify the problem of the unavailability of
He was speaking during an interview with reporters
after the TTMA s post-Budget forum on Tuesday at
the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business, Mt
Hope. Questions sent to the Central Bank yesterday
seeking a response to the growing forex crisis were
not answered up to press time.
Government has declared November 10 as the
public holiday for Divali, the Hindu festival of lights.
The date was announced by Communications
Minister Maxie Cuffie during yesterday s post-Cabinet
news conference at the Office of the Prime Minister,
Secretary general and the Sanatan Dharma Maha
Sabha (SDMS), Satnarayan Maharaj, said yesterday
the date was agreed by all Hindu organisations in
He said he had written to the Office of the Prime
Minister two months ago on the issue. Maharaj said
most preparations were already in place for the cel-
ebrations across the country and only Government
funding was being awaited.
Maharaj said he hoped the new Government would
"top" that which was offered by the last govern-
A 20-year-old security guard employed at St
James Medical Complex was arrested on Wednesday
after being accused of beating and raping an employ-
ee.He was held by officers of the St James Police Sta-
tion shortly after the incident at the compound.
The guard is expected to appear in court today
charged with raping and assaulting the 67-year-old
nurse. According to police reports, around 5.30 pm,
the guard was on duty when he attacked the nurse
in a vacant room before resuming to his duties.
The woman was found by colleagues who called
the police. Woman Police Constables Kerr and Phillip
responded and took a report.
Security guard charged
with raping nurse
Smith apologises to Padarath
Divali holiday November 10
dip by US$942m
PM ABSENT AGAIN FROM PARLIAMENT
Prime Minister Keith
Rowley was a no-show again
for yesterday's Standing
Finance Committee meeting,
although he did chair the
weekly Cabinet session.
The Finance Committee
was told by chairman, House
Speaker Bridgid Annisette-
George, on Wednesday that
Rowley had asked to be
excused that day due to ill
health. The Office of the
Prime Minister (OPM) was
listed third on the
committee's agenda to be
scrutinised on Wednesday
regarding expenditure and
other issue outline in the
But committee members
were told the OPM had to be
deferred until yesterday due
to the PM's absence.
Maxie Cuffie said
Wednesday that Rowley had
a routine dental procedure
and was fine. Cuffie said he
chaired the Cabinet meeting
(which was held in the
Parliament building) and had
alerted MPs that he (PM)
also had a meeting.
Cuffie could not say if
Rowley had root canal or
what dental procedure was
undergone. Cuffie said: "He
spoke well, as normal."
Asked if Rowley would
attend today's third leg of the
five-day Finance session to
answer queries on the OPM,
Cuffie said Rowley didn't
need to be there as the
Finance Minister was there.
Rebuke over questions on THA spending
Imbert and PP MPs 'butt heads'
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