Friday, November 23, 2012

Food Card Distribution War

Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Orville London said yesterday he was not invited to government's distribution of food cards to Tobagonians, despite a claim by Minority Leader Ashworth Jack that he (London) snubbed the event, at the Scarborough Port on Wednesday.

London is demanding a public apology from Jack and officials of the Peoples' Partnership Government for giving the impression that the THA was invited and had blanked the event.

According to a statement from the THA, "the Office of the Chief Secretary has advised that up to early yesterday morning no invitation had been received and checks with other members of the Executive revealed that they too had not received an invitation to the event which took place at the Scarborough Port on Wednesday".

The statement added that it was "quite disconcerting that not only was the Chief Secretary placed on the official programme to deliver an address but the Minority Leader actually told the audience the Chief Secretary and other members of the Executive did not attend."

The THA said in the circumstance, it was not "difficult to conclude that this was a deliberate effort to embarrass the THA Executive and to place its members in a bad light with the audience at the event and the wider Tobago public."

London is calling on Jack to do the "decent thing and apologise for misleading his audience and the wider Tobago public".

But in an immediate response, Jack said he has done nothing wrong.
"When I got to the event, I ask and was told by the deputy permanent secretary of the People and Social Development that the Chief Secretary was invited," he said.

He claimed the truth was not being told and accused London of playing politics.
"He is trying to score political points and choosing the wrong person to do that with. The Chief Secretary is free to hear a copy of the tape and anybody could do it, and listen to what I said, and at no time did I make any comment on his absence."

Jack said he was pleased with the turnout at the Scarborough Port, adding "it was extremely well attended, and in fact it was oversubscribed".

He sought to correct the view that the Ministry of the People's week-long presence on the island to distribute foodcards, housing subsidies and other State benefits was a political gimmick, saying this was not the first time such activities had taken place.

"This is in fact the fourth occasion the caravans came to Tobago, the first time was in 2010, some three days after Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh was appointed minister," Jack added.

reproduced from the express Trinidad

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