Carlos John, yesterday conceded that persons like Mervyn Assam and John Humphrey, had sat in the UNC Cabinet and were party to the decision not to implement the increases. But he stressed, that decision "no longer applied". "That is water under the bridge," John stated.
He added that the more recent decision of the UNC "shadow Cabinet" freed all former MPs to make their own judgement. He said that local government representatives were equally unfettered. "We can't talk for persons like Mervyn (Assam), John (Humphrey), Bill Chaitan and Daphne Phillips. And I don't think there is any conflict (in them accepting the increases)," John said. Nariva MP Harry Partap, yesterday, agreed with John, pointing out that "no mention was made of the others" when the sitting MPs took their decision. "I have read their (former MPs') comments in today's newspapers and I found them to be reasonable," Partap said.
Among the former ministers and MPs who have indicated or suggested that they will accept the backpay are Mervyn Assam, Brian Kuei Tung, Rupert Griffith and John Humphrey. Former Minister Reeza Mohammed was one of those who also stated that he expects to take receipt of his money. "I am now a private citizen, so the UNC can no longer speak on my behalf. And I worked very hard for my money," he said.
Former Minister Bill Chaitan said that he was not sure what he would do with his cheque when it comes. "That is insignificant in my life. It does not impact on my livelihood in any way," he said adding that he was more concerned about the state of the country.
Partap said their would have been a difficulty had any of the 18 sitting MPs stated that they would accept the money. But as far as he knew, he said, they all support the decision wholeheartedly.
Saying that he was a team player Partap stated: "I have always lived frugally. I have been able to accumulate savings over the past six years so I will manage."
Partap added that this was part of a struggle to get the elections to be called now.
Ortoire/Mayaro MP and former Minister Winston Gypsy Peters was also "very comfortable" with the decision. "It is not that we feel we are not entitled to the money, but on grounds of conscience we are rejecting it," he said. Describing the Manning government as illegitimate, Peters said that Prime Minister Patrick Manning was merely seeking to safeguard his retirement income.
Commenting on the decision of the UNC team, Manning said: "If it represents an attempt on their part to reimburse the Treasury for the $30 million they wasted in Biche, then they still have a long way to go." He added that this was merely an attempt by members of the former government to deflect attention from their malseasance.
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