By Alexis R. Milan
The People’s United Party’s decision to accept PetroCaribe funds for the government’s Christmas Cheer program was made because the party was never against use of those funds.
PUP Deputy Leader, Julius Espat told The Reporter that his party never objected to the PetroCaribe initiative the way the government portrayed the PUP challenge. Espat affirmed that the basis for the party’s legal challenge is about the manner in which the government has been spending the funds without first seeking National Assembly approval.
Espat said it was a collective decision by the PUP’s national executive to approve participation in the government’s Christmas Cheer Program.
The PUP has called on the government to ensure equitable distribution of PetroCaribe funds and although their is still a gap in the distribution ratio, it is a better offer than the government’s Mothers Day Cheer Program where only UDP ministers were given funds.
It was difficult to refuse participation in the program, Espat said, because he represents the residents in his constituency who are in need of the resources that the fund can provide.
Espat explained that each PUP area representative will be given $35,000 to spend on Christmas Cheer, but before receiving any money PUP area representatives must compile a list of items, get a quote for the cost, and submit the information to the government for approval.
Government ministers, on the other hand will receive $110,000 to spend on the same thing.
Espat said his party’s legal challenge is an attempt to set a precedence for this and all future endeavours of significance that the government undertakes. He concluded that the government must be held accountable because without transparent governance the country is doomed.