Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe confirmed that she and her sister were granted an exemption to leave Trinidad in December and return in January.
"My sister and I travelled for personal reasons related to a family member's health. We made the necessary requests and we were granted all necessary approvals," the Minister stated in response to questions from the Express via WhatsApp.
She pointed out that she was not the only Parliamentarian who travelled to the United States in December and noted that Opposition MP Dr Rai Ragbir was also on the same flight as her and would have obtained an exemption.
"I travelled to the US on the same day, on the same flight as MP for Cumuto/Manzanilla Rai Ragbir. I don't hear anyone raising concerns about him. Like I said, we made the necessary requests and got the necessary approvals. Note that I was not excited to travel to the US where the Covid-19 situation is so bad and spend my holidays at the hospital. There is nothing fun and exiting about that." stated Cudjoe.
Cudjoe and her sister Iyesan Netfa Cudjoe received the exemption to depart Trinidad on December 16, 2020 on board a Caribbean Airlines flight and return on January 11, 2020.
A copy of the exemption letter dated December 15, 2020 addressed to Chief Immigration Officer Charmaine Gandhi-Andrews from the Ministry of National Security permanent secretary granting the exemption was circulated on social media.
It stated that the passengers upon their return to Trinidad and Tobago will be examined and assessed by the Chief Medical Officer or his staff and thereafter will be required to undego a period of quarantine.
The Express tried to contact Ragbir but calls to his cellphone went directly to voicemail.