Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC MP.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is now questioning why National Security Minister Stuart Young has “swiftly granted exemptions to thirty-nine individuals, who are not nationals of this country or diplomats?”

The exemptions were granted to foreigners to enter the country to work with a local beverage company.

On Wednesday Mrs Persad-Bissessar moved a motion of no confidence in Minister Young.

In a media release one day later she said, “In moving the motion, I exposed the Minister’s previous exemptions for non-nationals to enter the country and bypass official quarantine measures.”

She said, “ As a concerned population we must ask, how many non-nationals has Stuart Young granted exemptions to while citizens who have toiled to build this nation have been blocked out? How many citizens who are holders of Trinidad and Tobago passports living abroad were granted exemptions to enter our borders for a vacation, while those wishing to return to their homes have been denied?”

The Opposition Leader said information was received that on January 26, 2021, the Ministry of National Security granted an exemption request from Blue Waters Ltd for 39 people from Honduras to enter Trinidad and Tobago on January 28.

She added that this is a request that “appears to have been made eleven days prior, on January 15th.”

She said it is “insulting to the thousands of citizens of this country who have been stranded abroad, forced to beg and plead to return home, for non-nationals to be granted exemptions with haste.”

The Opposition Leader said on Wednesday the Government “attempted to grasp at straws” by saying non-nationals were being allowed to enter as they were Diplomats.

She noted, though, that in this case, none of these individuals is a diplomat.

Mrs Persad-Bissessar said Minister Young must answer, why, yet again are foreigners being placed ahead of those who were born in this nation.

She said since the closing of the borders, the Government’s exemption policy has been controversial and contentious.

“As a matter of fact, the Minister of National Security admitted that he breached his own programme when he announced during the debate of No Confidence against him that someone who had not applied for an exemption was allowed to return home.”

She asked, “What other special considerations would he give at the request of large companies, friends and financers for non-nationals to enter? How is it that non-nationals have privileges over our own citizens?”