Kamla: No Cabinet approval required for legal fee payout

Le­gal fees paid dur­ing the past PP ad­min­is­tra­tion’s tenure did not have to be brought to Cab­i­net for ap­proval since fees from min­istries and State en­ter­pris­es don’t have to be ap­proved there.

That was Op­po­si­tion Leader Kam­la Per­sad- Bisses­sar’s re­sponse fol­low­ing at­tacks on the is­sue by Gov­ern­ment at Tues­day’s PNM Ch­agua­nas meet­ing.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, PNM of­fi­cials in­clud­ing Prime Min­is­ter Kei­th Row­ley took a turn af­ter the PP gov­ern­ment on le­gal fees al­leged­ly paid to pri­vate at­tor­neys for State le­gal brief work then. They al­so at­tacked the PP/UNC on al­leged cor­rup­tion re­lat­ed charges re­cent­ly filed against for­mer PP at­tor­ney gen­er­al Anand Ram­lo­gan and for­mer UNC sen­a­tor Ger­ald Ramdeen.

Yes­ter­day, on queries if her Cab­i­net had ap­proved fees, Per­sad- Bisses­sar said, “Not at all, Cab­i­net doesn’t have to ap­prove le­gal fees.”

She not­ed min­istries and state en­ter­pris­es han­dled fee is­sues them­selves.

On Row­ley’s de­c­la­ra­tion that he was hold­ing Ram­lo­gan and Ramdeen’s is­sues “firm­ly” to her, Per­sad-Bisses­sar said, “As I in­di­cat­ed in us­ing my for­mer leader’s anal­o­gy re­gard­ing dis­ci­ples, the point isn’t about ‘be­tray­al’ - the point as I said , was, you can’t tell what’s in a per­son’s heart,”

“If the Prime Min­is­ter is ‘hold­ing’ things to peo­ple, he’ll al­so have to own— or be held to— cer­tain is­sues con­cern­ing, for in­stance, his self -con­fessed friend in the al­leged ‘fake oil’ mat­ter, (Min­is­ter ) Mar­lene (Mc­Don­ald’s) Cal­abar Foun­da­tion is­sues, PNM Sen­a­tor Lester Hen­ry’s guilty con­vic­tion on a Dri­ving Un­der the In­flu­ence (DUI) charge, some who may be get­ting ready for big pay­ments on Curepe In­ter­change prop­er­ty — and peo­ple he knows well who his Gov­ern­ment’s pay­ing mil­lion rent for the St Clair prop­er­ty.”

Per­sad- Bisses­sar said she wasn’t sur­prised Gov­ern­ment was com­ing at the UNC.

She said, “ The re­ac­tion to some mat­ters in the pub­lic do­main hasn’t gained the trac­tion they ex­pect­ed— cit­i­zens are too busy fight­ing for sur­vival. So PNM’s meet­ing just con­tin­ued their ‘Blame Kam­la and the UNC ‘ tirade, they’re for­ev­er look­ing back­wards, dis­con­nect­ed from peo­ple’s bread and but­ter is­sues but for many, it’s dry bread now be­cause peo­ple can’t even af­ford but­ter!”

Al­so yes­ter­day, sources re­spond­ing on the le­gal fee is­sue and the AG’s of­fice point­ed out that on­line Fi­nance Min­istry draft es­ti­mates of re­cur­rent ex­pen­di­ture re­ports pre­sent­ed in years 2012 to 2017 show that for the Min­istry of the At­tor­ney Gen­er­al and Le­gal Ser­vices, ac­tu­al fig­ures for min­istry goods and ser­vices for 2010 to 2015 were: $36.3 mil­lion (2010), $78.6m (2011), $104.1m (2012), $103.8m (2013), $118.5m (2014), $117.1m(2015)

 -by Gail Alexander

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