Opposition Member of Parliament Dr Roodal Moonilal says that the Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds must tell the country about the current status of the leased Sikorsky S76D helicopter.
"Mr. Hinds must inform taxpayers whether the aircraft was taken this week on a trailer from its Cumuto base to Point Lisas, and whether it is being returned to its supplier or being reduced to scrap. The “phantom” chopper is reported to have been moved under the cover of darkness to the Port of Point Lisas" Moonilal said in a statement today.
He raised the issue on the day that images appeared on social media showing a helicopter, wrapped in a protective material, being moved on the trailer of a cargo truck in the Pt Lisas, Couva area.
Moonilal said: The Minister must also indicate whether or not the PNM Government has fulfilled the terms and conditions of the lease of the helicopter. I had previously disclosed that the Rowley administration refused to honour the provisions of the lease, only because the legal arrangement had been entered into by the Kamla Persad-Bissessar Government. While vulnerable fishermen are being abducted and killed in the Gulf of Paria, the Government left the taxpayer-funded aircraft idle at a Cumuto shed.
Now the scandal has deepened even further. "
He said Hinds must state whether the helicopter was surreptitiously moved to Point Lisas, and, if so, for what purpose, and whether the Government has adhered to the lease stipulations.
Moonilal said: "The lease has been funded for almost six years by the people of Trinidad and Tobago, to whom Mr. Hinds and the Government must properly account.
Minister Hinds must disclose the content of any agreement with the supplier pursuant to any court proceedings in New York as to what quantum of monies the taxpayers of this country must expend. What are the terms of any agreement reached between Vertical Aviation LLC and the government of Trinidad and Tobago? Bearing in mind that the supplier had sued the government for $88 m for breach of the terms of the lease.
This air asset has a cost of $100 m which the PNM government left to rot in a shed at Cumuto ."