DIEGO Martin Central MP Dr Amery Browne has slammed the Government for claiming that contributions from ministers' salaries were being made to the Children's Life Fund when no money was coming out.
He was speaking during his contribution to debate in the Lower House on the national budget 2012/2013 at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain.
The People's National Movement (PNM) MP said Leader of Government Business Dr Roodal Moonilal used the terms "con man" and "con job" to refer to Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley in his contribution but Government should not have the "audacity" to use that term.
"What I'm referring to, Mr Speaker, is the perception that was presented to this population that the members of the Government were giving out of their pockets five and ten per cent of their salaries ... (to the Children Life Fund)," he said.
Browne noted it was revealed by an investigative journalist that no money was being paid, "while they were coming here and boasting about it and we were 'boffed' Mr Speaker, chiding the Opposition ... you all need to match us and so on, and they weren't giving anything at all, Mr Speaker".
Geoffrey Lewis, chief executive officer of the Life Fund, had confirmed to the Express that no contributions had been made by the ministers for two years and they had only been getting deposits from individual ministers over the last few months.
Browne said on top of that issue, Government secretly requisitioned State vehicles for use by ministers, a value that exceeded five per cent of their salaries.
He added that this administration claimed to be giving with one hand, with the Life Fund, and were taking away with the next, with the State vehicles.
"How can citizens ever forgive or forget that approach to government? Unforgivable," he commented.
On the budget, Browne commended Finance Minister Larry Howai on his first presentation but later described it as a "failure" that only triggered uncertainty and generated more answers than questions.
He said that while big business seemed happy with the budget, and they seemed to have gotten what they want from the pre-budget consultations, there were many other sectors that had not gotten what they want.