PORT OF SPAIN Mayor, Louis Lee Sing, has lashed out against Local Government Minister, Suruj Rambachan, in wake of his statements accusing him of "suffering" the city.
On Tuesday, Rambachan, during the budget debate in the Lower House of Parliament, Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, the minister questioned why Lee Sing had $41 million in unspent balances and was not using it to benefit the people.
Rambachan further suggested that if the Opposition wanted help in Port of Spain, they should "make friends" with Lee Sing and ask him about the $41 million in unspent balances and why those funds were not spent developing basketball courts and homework centres.
Rambachan told the Lower House that when he spoke to Lee Sing about the unspent balances at a meeting, the Mayor told him he would forward a list of the projects for Rambachan to sign off on, but never did.
"Why is the PNM punishing the people of Port of Spain?" he asked rhetorically.
Responding to the allegations during a press conference at City Hall yesterday, Lee Sing said he had raised the issue of the utilisation of unspent balances in that corporation on 15 different occasions with the Minister of Local Government, be it Chandresh Sharma or Surujrattan Rambachan, but never got any response from them.
"When this Minister came in, I had tremendous hope that there would be a class act and a good relationship with the city, and I sought an audience with him and said to him, I have nine items here I have been trying to get approvals on...I have only been able to get approvals on one or two little items."
"I wanted $4 million to build the vending mall, which would have helped us with street vending in the city that has been consistently not approved. I have asked for $4 million to complete a building that was going on for 13 years in Desperlie Crescent, in the heart of Laventille, it was not approved," he said.
Lee Sing further added that he was "subsequently told (on Tuesday) by CEO (Winifred David) that the Minister requested, of her, a complete breakdown of every line item to be spent under the $4 million for the Desperlie Crescent and the same for all the other projects".
Lee Sing added that the Port of Spain Corporation got $20 million "again" this year. "And $20 million cannot even repair the pavements in Port of Spain," he said.
—with reporting by Julien Neaves