By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
The State has been renting a house from businessman/politician, Peter Ramsaroop, for Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes. The facility is being rented at a monthly rate of $500,000, being paid by the Parliament Office.
Another is being rented for Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Valerie Adams-Patterson.
This arrangement has raised the eyebrows of many, including former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall. He is of the opinion that this arrangement is offensive since it is not being governed by any Constitutional provision or order.
Nandlall penned a letter to the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs, seeking more information on the arrangement which he claims is unlawful. Apparently, Nandlall was not aware that Patterson is enjoying a similar arrangement as that which is being enjoyed by Broomes.
So, he wrote, “It has been published in the public domain that the Parliament Office/Clerk of the National Assembly has rented living accommodation for Junior Minister, Simona Broomes, at a rate of $500,000 GYD per month.
“Please provide me with the statutory/constitutional provision or Order, which authorized such use of public monies. I further request copies of any other such rental contracts for living accommodations for Ministers of the Government entered into by the Parliament’s Office/Clerk of the National Assembly.”
The letter was sent to Isaacs on Monday. Up to last evening, Nandlall had not received a response.
However, Isaacs was very open with Kaieteur News when an explanation for the arrangement was sought.
The Clerk said that unlike what has been published in sections of the media, it is not true that the house allowance for ministers—which is provided for in the law—has increased. He said that this allowance still stands at $25,000 per month.
“But, we have been renting quarters for two ministers out of Georgetown (Valerie Patterson and Broomes). Indeed we have been paying $500,000 a month for the houses.
Isaacs quoted the law which says that the Prime Minister, Attorney General and senior ministers of the government are entitled to rent free quarters. Isaacs said that those who have their own homes do not go into rent free quarters. “We give them $25,000”. The other Ministers are housed in Government flats.
“But if the government flats cannot accommodate any other person we rent.”
“Now the PPP has been renting quarters for a number of ministers but the rent was not paid by this office. I believe it was paid by the Office of the President (now the Ministry of the Presidency).”
Isaacs said that former Minister of Amerindian People’s Affairs, Pauline Sukhai, lived in a rented house up to the 2015 elections and so did former Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee.
He also pointed out that former Minister of Natural Resources, Robert Persaud, before building his own home lived in a rented facility paid for by the government. “Plenty of them lived in rented quarters,” said Isaacs.
He said that it is no easy task finding “a suitable quarter for a minister to live. I mean where you are going to find something for a minister for $25,000?”
Isaacs said that the government-owned Echillibar Villas is not suitable for the Ministers as it sometimes floods when it rains.
“I do not see what is the hue and cry about this. The house allowance has to be raised by law but the renting of the house for a minister is not stated in the law. So, I do not have to get permission to rent a house. I need permission (from the National Assembly) to increase the allowance because the legislation says $25,000 is to be paid as allowance but this is not allowance this is rent we are looking at two different issues.”
Noteworthy is the fact that none of the Ministers who are living in $500,000 rented homes is senior. Isaacs said that the Ministers were brought from out of town, so government undertook the task of housing them.
Isaacs said that he was going to pen a response to Nandlall yesterday afternoon.
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