A lengthy standoff between opposition senator Lambert Brown and government senators over corruption issues plaguing the government on Friday drew the ire of government senators as Brown expressed concern over what he described as a $208 billion windfall for the government's coffers, saying it could become a slush fund for government.
Senator Brown recommended that some of the funds to be transferred to the consolidated fund, could be used to help finance the consular service: “ This 208 billion dollars that is going to accrue to the consolidated fund, we need to ensure that some of it, is spent on improving the consular service, so that what happen to our fishermen recently, don’t happen again! We most improve the consular service so that when people are held on the high seas, and before trial, they can get help.”
He questioned whether $400 million from PetroCaribe might have already gone to the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) as part of a system of kickbacks.
"I want to know if that almost $4 million allegedly instructed to be paid to Ms Doreen Miller, the so-called household helper of Minister Ruel Reid, came out of any of that PetroCaribe money that went to the CMU," Senator Brown questioned.
However, he later pointed out: "I don't need an answer from the government. Ms Miller has spoken to me and she said not a single cent of that money came to her."
That statement set off a series of interventions by government senators as well as Senate president Tom Tavares-Finson.
Senator Ransford Braham said Senator Brown's assertions were problematic and that it was "inappropriate for the senator to be detailing matters that are under investigation."
Despite a final warning from the Senate president, Senator Brown persisted, again drawing the ire of government members when he recommended how the PetroCaribe money should be spent.
When Senator Brown continued, the Senate president made it clear he had had enough and ruled that Senator Brown discontinue his presentation and retake his seat.
The opposition senators then walked out of the sitting.
Following the opposition walk-out, the Senate president explained that he asked Senator Brown to end his presentation because "he repeatedly refused to deal with the bill under discussion in a relevant manner," even after the matter had been brought to his attention on several ocassions.
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