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T&T not used as ATM’

marciadottin, [email protected]

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PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad – Former Jamaican prime minister PJ Patterson distanced his country from remarks by the new Trinidad and Tobago government that the oil-rich twin-island republic would no longer be used as an automated teller machine (ATM) card with respect to providing assistance to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries.Patterson, who addressed a forum of business leaders on Thursday urging investment in Haiti, told reporters that he disagreed with the view that Port-of-Spain’s generosity had been abused by CARICOM members.“I can only speak for Jamaica and I would have to say that we did not line up or benefit from any ATM machine and I confine that remark to Jamaica,” he said.Last week, Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar told her regional colleagues that there was need for greater accountability and transparency in the Petroleum Fund and the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) – both of which benefit tremendously from funding provided by Port-of-Spain.“A lot of monies been shelled out by Trinidad and Tobago [with] no accountability, no transparency . . . we just cannot continue to do things in that way and each time there is a shortfall we cannot continue like Trinidad and Tobago is an ATM card . . . you come in, you put the card there and you come back out with cash. It just cannot happen anymore,” Persad-Bissessar said.Patterson, who is now Special Representative of the CARICOM governments to Haiti, said those programmes that have been administered by CARICOM “have been done in a manner that always ensures accountability and I think those who have been responsible for the administration of those funds can, if necessary, or should it be necessary, be called upon to give an account of their stewardship”.But the former Jamaican leader believes that Persad-Bissessar, who came to power in the May 24 general election, has the regional integration movement at heart.“No one was left in any doubt that she is committed to the regional process, perhaps her emphasis as she made it clear will be somewhat different than those which existed before,” he said. (CMC)