THE TAXPAYERS' money that funded last night's Independence Ball should have been spent to help the victims of the flash floods that devastated Diego Martin.
This is the view of former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj who said he declined the invitation to attend the ball with his wife.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Maharaj said it was inappropriate for Government to host such an event when so many citizens were in distress.
Maharaj stated, "The Government has a duty to demonstrate that it acknowledges that this is a problem which must be given priority (and) it must provide immediate redress to the victims. It is not appropriate for government to take taxpayers money to fund an Independence Ball."
He blamed the Government and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for the disaster, saying that the emergency responses were inadequate.
"The national disaster therefore was caused by the inaction of the government," he said.
"The Prime Minister ought to have provided leadership by mobilising the resources of the government, of the private sector and other individuals and groups to provide immediate assistance with remedial action.
"In the areas of Diego Martin we ought to have been seeing by now massive action in repairing and rebuilding homes and the distribution of household goods, furniture and appliances. This is not the kind of crisis for government to merely hand out hampers and grants."
He stated that Government had no plans to stop flooding from occurring again and disasters can reoccur in Diego Martin and other parts of the country. According to Maharaj, "The Government had a duty upon taking office to have appointed a task force comprising persons of the requisite skills and expertise to identify the areas in our country with flooding problems or which had the potential for such flooding problems and the necessary remedial action to be taken to prevent flooding disasters. No such action plan was formulated by Government and no timeline was fixed by the Government to remedy the flooding problems in our country."
Shortly after the People's Partnership election victory in 2010, there were devastating floods across south and central Trinidad.
Disaster units were set up at each regional corporation where emergency items were stored. Former works minister Jack Warner had promised then that the Government was doing everything they could to prevent flooding such as clearing waterways and building proper drains.
Maharaj said the Government should request the help of other governments, including the US government, " to get experts in fighting flooding problems to assist it in devising a remedial plan of action".