On Tuesday, P.U.P. leader Francis Fonseca rained gloom on Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s Christmas Cheer Program. That program will see the allocation of ninety-thousand dollars to U.D.P. Area representatives, twenty-five thousand dollars to P.U.P. Area Representatives and twenty-five thousand dollars to U.D.P. caretakers. The Leader of the Opposition made it clear that he isn’t condemning the program in principle, but rather the allocation. Firstly, Fonseca claims that all constituents should receive the same amount of cheer. And secondly, he says that it is ridiculous and just plain wrong for unelected political aspirants, dubbed caretakers, to be given government monies to use as they wish. Today, PM Barrow confirmed the allocations, and not surprisingly, had no apology to offer. He says that the allocations in the Christmas Cheer Program are perfectly in order.
Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
“No minister, no area representative, no caretaker can receive any cash. The only person who have so far applied for cash is the opposition deputy leader, Julius Espat. We kind of understand the circumstance, he obviously went and bought toys in Panama before the Christmas Cheer Program was announced and now he wants us to reimburse him, ain’t going to happen. You can’t get any cash and in terms of the U.D.P. caretakers all they are able to do is suggest recipients for Christmas goodies which will be distributed by the our channel through the Ministry of Human Development. So, nothing is wrong it is in my view completely fair that members of the government should be able to have distributed rather more than members of the opposition. And I am saying last year it was same Mr. Espat who came to me and said do something for the opposition and I immediately complied. Last year they had access to the distribution to ten thousand dollars worth of supply. I never got when I was in opposition for then long year a penny from the then government. By way of Christmas Cheer by way of constituency allocation by way of nothing we are miles ahead of these people in terms of trying to get resources out to citizens and allowing them to participate at a certain level, up to a certain point in the distribution of those resources. They are not determining how public funds are being distributed; they are making recommendation which the ministry has to accept. It is the ministry that distributes but I understand what you are trying to get at and I am saying that as long as the resources get to the people in the constituency. What it then means is that in opposition constituency, fifty thousand dollars worth of resources are going to get to the people. Man that is what is really important.”