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Marlene: Bias against PNM areas

By Ria Taitt Political Editor

Opposition Chief Whip Marlene McDonald yesterday accused the Government of discriminating against the people of communities such as East Port of Spain, Diego Martin, Laventille and Morvant, while it was focusing its development thrust in areas in Central and South.

Speaking in the budget debate in the House of Representatives, Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, McDonald said the people of East Port of Spain wanted sustainable jobs. But, she said, the budget's public sector investment programme reflected an inequitable distribution of resources and was only geared to benefit Central and South Trinidad.

She cited a number of development projects — Debe Campus — $509 million; Children's Hospital in Preysal — US$150 million; COSTAATT campus in Chaguanas — $32.7 million; Open campus facility in Chaguanas — $160 million; Skills in Technology Centre in Debe — $39.3 million; National Aquatic Centre in Couva — $175 million, Nalis libraries in Siparia and Toco--$106 million; new hospital in Chaguanas; YTEPP building in Waterloo — $7 million.

McDonald said the ministries of Food Production and Community Development were being relocated to Chaguanas. And a cycling velodrome was to be constructed in Couva at a cost of $255 million.

"Look, I exhausted (just reading the list). What is in it for East Port of Spain, Diego Martin, Laventille East/Morvant, Laventille West? You deem them to be hotspots (for crime), but what is there for them?"

McDonald said the "trend of inequity" was also carried into the allocations for the 14 regional corporations for 2013.

She said the Government subvention to the corporations showed an increase in the allocation to the San Fernando corporation of $9 million (representing a 9.7 per cent increase over last year); Arima got $2.5 million more, a 4.2 per cent increase; Chaguanas got $4.6 million more (9.3 per cent increase); Diego Martin got $2.6 million (a 3.5 per cent increase); Tunapuna got $1.5 million more (a 9.9 per cent increase); Sangre Grande got $6.4 million (a 10.2 per cent increase); Couva got $8.1 million more (a 9 per cent increase); Mayaro got $1.7 million more, (a 2.6 per cent increase); Siparia got $3.5 million more (a 5.5 per cent increase); Penal/Debe got $1.5 million (a 2.6 per cent increase); Princes Town got $5 million more (a 7.5 per cent incease); and Point Fortin $6.1 million more (a 12 per cent increase).

However, McDonald said, Port of Spain received $933,567 more, an increase of 0.048 per cent over the 2011-2012 allocation, and San Juan/Laventille received $462,212, an increase of 0.034 per cent.

"Oh Lord! Shame!" shouted the PNM bench.

"Tell me, isn't this inequitable?" Mc Donald asked.

She said the Housing Development Corporation was building 3,000 homes in active sites in Union Hall, Princes Town, Eygpt and Chaguanas. This, despite the fact that 75 per cent of the housing demand was in the East-West Corridor.

Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Lincoln Douglas said if the PNM so loved the people of Port of Spain East, why did the PNM leave those areas in the state that they were in after all those years in power.

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