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Kamla defends travelling with sister


CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Kamla defends travelling with sister

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PORT OF SPAIN  – The main opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) today called on Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar to justify having spent thousands of dollars on having her sister travel with her as part of official delegations when she is on state business overseas.
Prior to her departure for Panama, Prime Minister Persad Bissessar defended her decision to take her sister, Vidwatie Newton, at taxpayers’ expense on official trips with her.
Newton has accompanied the Prime Minister to several trips including Brazil, Australia, London and Hong Kong.
“It has been done before my time…Indeed, I am advised that former prime minister (ANR) Robinson would take his son as his travel assistant.
“”I trust my sister. I feel comfortable with having her handling my personal matters like food and medication. It is vital. It allows me to spend more time on my job,” Prime Minister Persad Bissessar said.
But the PNM said that it “deplores the latest attempt by the Government to mislead the public on the abuse of the public trust and the public purse by the Office of the Prime Minister” and accused the five-party coalition administration of resorting “to naked untruths in order to justify its unacceptable actions. 
“This latest attempt by the Prime Minister to justify expenditure of huge sums of taxpayers money on her jet-setting sister then attempt to hide behind actions incorrectly ascribed to former Prime Minister A.N.R Robinson is distasteful, crass, unconvincing and certainly warrants a public apology to President Robinson from the Office of the Prime Minister.”
The Trinidad Express newspaper Tuesday quoted the former permanent secretary to Prime Minister Robinson as saying that he had “absolutely no recollection whatsoever of Robinson’s son ever being on any Trinidad and Tobago delegation (travelling overseas)”.
“In my experience working with him as prime minister, David was never on any Trinidad and Tobago delegation.  Mr Robinson would not do that. He is not that kind of person to have his child or sibling travel with him and say it is his travel assistant. That is not the kind of person he is,” Dumas said.
He added that Robinson did not even have a personal assistant.
Former attorney general Anthony Smart, who served in the Robinson administration, also said he was unaware of the former prime minister’s son travelling with him as an assistant.
Former prime minister Basdeo Panday described the decision by Prime Minister Persad Bissessar as a “ peculiar and unusual case. (CMC)
 

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