Trinidad Guardian:- National security, health and other agencies intend to increase the number of resources necessary in port areas like Icacos, if there’s need for it, to cope with increased numbers of Venezuelans entering T&T, Stuart Young, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, has said.
He did so at yesterday’s weekly post-Cabinet media briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair.
Young said the issue of the increased flow of Venezuelans entering T&T in places like Icacos and Cedros had been among yesterday’s Cabinet discussions.
He said the Ministers of National Security, Health and other arms of Government have been monitoring the situation carefully and “as time passes” and if there was need for increased resources in Cedros and some other ports, the situation would be dealt with.
He said Government was also moving forward with other issues broached at last week’s T&T-Venezuela talks. A meeting was held Wednesday between T&T and Venezuelan trade divisions on Venezuela’s request for US$50 million worth of goods.
Young said Venezuela had listed some products they wanted and Government was speaking to local manufacturers to see if that could be provided without adverse effects on T&T, since citizens were the first priority. A T&T-Venezuelan delegation also met on the Dragon Field energy field exploration.
Young also said Government could not interfere with the ongoing judicial process by Venezuelan, concerning the five T&T nationals detained there since March 2014. They are suspected of being terrorists. He, however, said T&T had asked Venezuela to expedite the process.
He said there was no connection between that issue and the repatriation of Venezuelan nationals at TT’s Immigration Detention Centre. He said T&T had recently told Venezuela it was prepared to repatriate its nationals detained T&T, which, he said, was an immigration issue.
On concerns by the Office of Disaster Preparedness (ODPM) about a shortfall in its funding, Young said while the public needed to be aware T&T was in difficult circumstances, Government was prioritising where available funds should go and was aware there were competing needs.
He said if the ODPM came forward with supporting evidence that there were needs for an increase in purchase of items, “as a responsible Government, that is something we will put our priorities on and we will focus on this… we’re not going to let the people be caught flat-footed and not be prepared to weather any storm.
“We will continue prioritising the expenditure of money and we will continue to do so in a responsible manner,” he added.
Young was also asked about the expending of almost half-a-million by the Tourism and Culture Ministries towards offsetting the cost of a cruise venture from Miami to the Bahamas, featuring local artistes, including fashion designers.
He said each ministry contributed $225,000, since they supported cultural icons and felt the initiative would bring returns in terms of exposing T&T to a wider audience. He said he expected each ministry did an evaluation and felt a $225,000 contribution (each) made sense.
Young said Government was also moving to proclaim the controversial Strategic Services Amendment (SSA) Act following presidential assent recently but did not say exactly when.