The Auditor General must investigate the ministerial housing benefit

first_imgLike everything else the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) does, the housing benefits for Ministers is now shrouded in another mountain of lies. Everything about their housing allowance now has the unmistakable stench of corruption. Parliament has confirmed that they pay rent twenty times above the statutory housing allowance for two junior Ministers, Simona Broomes and Valarie Patterson. But other Ministers are also living in rented properties. Who is paying those rentals? What is APNU/AFC hiding?Whenever the APNU/AFC is exposed for wrong doings, they have a nasty proclivity to throw people under the bus. Recently, Minister Lawrence threw the now fired CEO of the GPHC “under the bus and ran him over” for the shameful 5 million sole-sourced procurement of medicines for which GPHC paid prices averaging three times the actual cost. She pulled herself out of the mess and left CEO Johnson to suffocate in the stench of one of the many ugly APNU/AFC corrupt transactions. Now they have thrown Sherlock Isaacs and Parliament office under the bus for the abuse of the housing allowance for Ministers. Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, claimed the payments of 0,000 each per month for rentals for two junior Ministers has nothing to do with APNU/AFC and the Cabinet. It is Isaacs and Parliament office that have gone rogue. I know that Isaacs will not exceed his authority.The Ministerial Housing Benefit is legal and is standard in all democracies around the world. There is nothing wrong with the Government providing housing for Ministers. However, Ministerial Housing Benefits have statutory limits. Governments must be accountable for how they implement a Ministerial Housing benefit. How governments treat the housing benefit is reflective of how prudent they are in spending taxpayers’ money. While Ministers must be offered decent housing, ministerial housing cannot be an extravagant affair.Some Ministers live in their own homes. Their electricity, water, telephone, Internet and security bills are paid for by the Government. These Ministers also receive a ,000 housing allowance. Some Ministers live in Government-owned properties, such as the Echilbar Villas. I lived there for over 15 years as a Minister. In such cases, there is no ,000 housing allowance. Some Ministers rent homes on their own and Government has a cap on what they can pay. I am aware that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government never paid rentals of 0,000 per month. But we now know after two years that Parliament pays rental of at least 0,000 per month for two Junior Ministers.How many Ministers are living in their own homes and how much are they paid as a housing allowance? How many Ministers are living in State-owned houses? How many Ministers are living in rented properties and what are the rents for these properties? These rentals and the housing allowances are part of the national budget estimates and cannot be treated as State secrets.Several APNU/AFC Ministers are living in rented properties, more than during the PPP terms of office. That more Ministers today live in rented properties is not an issue for quarrel. But the public should know how many Ministers are living in rented properties the State is paying for and how much the State is paying. APNU/AFC must come clean on this matter. This is even more critical in the milieu of suspicion that taxpayers are paying rentals that are extravagant. For example, I am informed that one Minister is paying more than million per month. Worse, this same Minister owns his own home and is renting it to the Government for one of the senior advisors. How many Ministers who own their homes are living in State-provided properties?The response cannot be that under the PPP some Ministers lived in rental properties too. That a Minister lives in a rental property is not being queried. What is being queried is that APNU/AFC is paying extravagant amounts. People want to know, they deserve to know and it is their right to know how taxpayers’ monies are being spent. Because it is taxpayers’ money, this cannot be treated as State secrets. If APNU/AFC is unwilling to tell us, then we want to know what is it they are hiding from us. This matter is now public and the Auditor General should investigate this matter urgently.Send comments to [email protected]last_img read more

Girls’ soccer: Wolverines claw back, win

first_imgAnother night, another set of heroes for the Harvard-Westlake of Studio City girls’ soccer team. Facing only their second deficit in Mission League play, the Wolverines responded with a convincing second-half performance to move a step closer to their sixth consecutive title. Donilyn Hunter-Sallustio and Jenna Marine scored goals seven minutes apart to lead Harvard-Westlake to a 2-1 victory Wednesday at Chaminade of West Hills, extending the Wolverines’ league unbeaten streak to 17 in a row. “We talked about making the first 10 minutes (of the second half) count because we didn’t want to be in a desperate situation,” said Harvard-Westlake coach Richard Simms, whose decision to move Mary Amato into the central midfield in the second half paid dividends. [email protected] (818) 713-3607 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img “These kids continue to rise to the occasion. You put a challenge in front of them and they’re going to meet it.” After misfiring on a few scoring opportunities in the first half, Marine converted for the Wolverines (13-7-4, 6-0-2) when it mattered most, completing a passing sequence that included Lizzy Danhakl and Coco Weaver by burying a 30-yard shot in the upper-right corner in the 52nd minute for the deciding goal. “Lizzy and Shannon (Hart) kept giving me perfect balls the whole game, so I was definitely hoping it was the one,” Marine said. “It was frustrating in the first half because I had so many shooting opportunities, so I’m glad I got one in.” Chaminade (7-9-2, 5-4) struck in the fifth minute when Alyssa Engstrom scored off Jordan Schoonover’s free kick. Hunter-Sallustio tied the score in the 45th minute, tapping in a loose ball after Amato’s high-arcing shot was dropped by goalkeeper Alex Bershon. “When you’re undefeated in a tough league, you find ways to win,” Chaminade coach Tracy Powell said. “Against Harvard-Westlake, you can’t afford to hold back with a 1-0 lead.” last_img read more