Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 17th 2014 Contents A5
Monday, November 17, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Movement for Social Justice
leader David Abdulah says
President Anthony Carmona
has lost credibility in accepting
payment of a $28,000 tax-free
The President, Abdulah said,
"has set a horrible example for
the citizens of T&T of-have
your cake and eat it."
Speaking a media conference
at the MSJ s San Fernando
headquarters yesterday, Abdulah
said the housing allowance,
which was authorised by Chief
Personnel Officer Stephanie
Lewis, "ought never to have
been paid to his Excellency."
He said the "have your cake
and eat it" message is resonating
all the way through society and
"is going to say to the country
that the standards of behaviour
in public office are very low
indeed and if the standards of
behaviour in public office are
low, what do we expect of other
Abdulah said that such inci-
dents "help to break down the
moorings of the country."
Carmona and the CPO have
come under public scrutiny over
the past weeks after it was
reported that Carmona,
although staying in State-fund-
ed accommodations at Flagstaff
Hill, St James, is receiving a
$28,000 housing allowance.
Many, including former head
of the Public Service Reginald
Dumas, Martin Daly SC and
former prime minister Basdeo
Panday, said such a payment
was highly inappropriate and
should not have been made.
Yesterday, Abdulah agreed
that a housing allowance for the
President while he is being
accommodated at the expense
of the state is unacceptable.
The MSJ leader admitted that
"the President loses tremendous
credibility because of this issue,
as he has lost credibility as well,
when other groups have written
to him, including the MSJ, on
major issues such as the Con-
stitution Amendment Bill and
we have not even received an
acknowledgment from him."
The People s National Move-
ment (PNM) will embark on
constitution reform, create a
revenue authority for greater
efficiency in tax collection and
rehaul the social welfare system
to cut down on state depend-
ency immediately upon assum-
ing office in 2015.
Tobago will also be granted
internal self governance, there
will be an abolition of appeals
to the Privy Council, the insti-
tution of the Caribbean Court
of Justice (CCJ) as the final court
of appeal and investment in the
development of the city of Port-
These are some of the plans
contained in the PNM s Vision
2030 policy document and in a
National Election Contract dis-
closed by Opposition Leader Dr
Keith Rowley at the party s 45th
annual convention at the
Queen s Park Savannah, Port-
Rowley announced the plans
in the party s policy document,
"The Road Ahead to 2030,
Building a Nation, Together."
He said while the PNM s posi-
tion remains that the 1976
Republican Constitution has
served T&T well, reform may
"We will embark on that
process immediately on getting
into office so that there is
enough time for consultation,
analysis and debate to take place
before the reforms go to Parlia-
Areas of Constitution reform
• Internal Self Government for
Tobago and the nature of the
unitary state of T&T.
• Abolition of appeals to the
Privy Council and instituting
the CCJ as our final appellate
• The role and functions of the
• Appointment of a commis-
sioner of police
• The role and functions of the
Salaries Review Commission
• The Office of the Director of
Public Prosecutions and the
exercise of prosecutorial
authority in relation to white
• Electoral system reform
• Clarification of the role and
powers of the President.
Rowley said among the chal-
lenges the PNM will face is the
issue of state dependency by
"millionaire and scrunter" alike.
He said a raft of welfare sup-
port and other programmes
resulting from oil revenues had
engendered the "deep underbelly
of chronic dependency" seen
today in particular sections of
"Too many people, from mil-
lionaire to scrunter, have become
entirely dependent on the state,"
"In fact we now have some
CEPEP contracts which have
been captured by businessmen
who obtain the contracts and
make considerable profit from
them while providing little or
no training or improvements for
workers nor any migrating of
their companies from the pro-
"If, and I daresay when oil
prices and energy sector rev-
enues collapse, we will not be
able to maintain these expen-
ditures and the social conse-
quences might be dire."
A Rowley-led government will
create a tax authority to max-
imise revenue collection, he said.
And while the PNM supports
the development of different
regions in T&T, the capital city
must be treated like a capital
"While we will support and
encourage planned regional
development in Trinidad and in
Tobago, as well as the sensible
decentralisation of government
services, we will continue to
invest in the development of the
capital city of Port-of-Spain,"
he said, noting the People s Part-
nership Government is, at pres-
ent, spending billions to upgrade
Chaguanas to city status.
Rowley said crime was a chal-
lenge the PNM will also have to
face, especially murders.
"The response here is to train
and sustain, at all levels from
parent to commissioner," he said.
Rowley: Govt being
dishonest on matter
People s National Movement leader Dr Keith
Rowley yesterday accused the Government of
engaging in "deception" in the controversy sur-
rounding the $28,000 housing allowance paid
to President Anthony Carmona.
Addressing the PNM s 45th annual convention
at the Queen s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain,
Rowley said the housing allowance was raised in
a Public Accounts Committee meeting in the
presence of the Government since last year "and
the Government simply chose to look the other
He contended that Attorney General Anand
Ramlogan was now telling the nation that the
Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) "is independent
and the Government is helpless. That wasn t so
with the five per cent edict and we wait to see
who will guide the next Public Service negotiations.
You simply can t trust them with anything they
In a media report yesterday, CPO Stephanie
Lewis maintained she did nothing wrong when
she authorised the $28,000 housing allowance
for Carmona. (RR)
But in an immediate response yesterday,
Ramlogan accused Rowley of misleading the
nation on the scope and ambit of the
Government's legal power over the CPO's office.
He said the President is not a civil servant and
this means the terms and conditions for the
office are subject to the CPO's jurisdiction. He
said this is dealt with by the Salaries Review
Saying the SRC is an independent body and
the CPO functions as its secretary, he said, "In so
doing, she (CPO) is not performing a function
that any minister has control or influence over.
She functions as an independent officer of the
SRC. As Dr Rowley well knows, no government
has any say in the operations and deliberations
of the SRC.
"It is in this context and in these
circumstances that I condemn the foolish
suggestion made by Dr Rowley that the CPO
was somehow acting under the influence of the
Government. When the CPO wrote that letter,
she was clearly functioning in her capacity as
secretary to the SRC as the terms and
conditions of the President cannot and do not
otherwise concern her."
He added that the CPO, as secretary of the
SRC, also cannot make a decision on the
President's housing allowance on her own.
"The SRC is the only body in law that could
deal with the terms and conditions of the office
of the President. It is a legal route by which the
President's allowance could have been paid.
"Since the Government had no knowledge
about this matter, perhaps the time has come
for the chairman of the SRC, Mr Edwards Collier,
to break his silence on this matter in the public
interest and provide the necessary clarification
regarding its role (if any) in this matter.
"His silence is causing unnecessary
consternation and disquiet and has the potential
to bring the office of the CPO and the President
into disrepute. He therefore has a duty to clear
the air on this matter."
He also queried when the PNM raised the
issue at the PAC meeting.
"He failed to provide any specifics as to who
raised it and when. Assuming, but not admitting
that Dr Rowley's allegation is true, why did he
remain silent on the matter for over a year?"
Abdulah said he does not accept the Government's position that
the CPO acted alone and is an independent officer. He reminded the
nation that it was the CPO, on the directive of an inter-ministerial
team, who instituted a wage cap in negotiations in the public serv-
ice.He said also did not agree with the reasoning that the allowance
was being paid because of the President's present accommoda-
"If he (Carmona) is being accommodated at Flagstaff with his
agreement and the agreement of the Government then that is it.
You cannot come now afterwards and claim a housing allowance
because you now feel that it is unsuitable," Abdulah said.
The MSJ leader said if Carmona was not pleased with the
Flagstaff Hill accommodation or found that it was not suitable,
then Government should have found suitable accommodation.
He said there were several months between Carmona's nomina-
tion and his elevation to office and suitable accommodation could
have been sought and obtained prior to his assuming office.
The President has, up to this time, not made any public comment
on the matter despite the ongoing criticism from several quarters.
GOVT CLAIM UNACCEPTABLE
While CPO Lewis is holding to her position that she did nothing
wrong, Daly yesterday maintained his position that she had no
legal authority to authorise the housing payment to Carmona.
Contacted on the CPO's position highlighted in the media yester-
day, Daly pointed to his Sunday column, which he said is his full
take on the issue.
In his column, Daly contended that he has resisted requests to
comment further on the CPO's approval of the housing allowance.
He described as "particularly worrisome" justifications attributed to
Public Services head Reynold Cooper, who ascribed to the CPO
"powers that, in my view, she does not have over the terms and
conditions of the presidency."
Daly, in the column, said it was important to emphasise that the
office of the CPO is not established by the Constitution and it is
"pitiful to describe the office as an independent constitutional
He contended that the CPO's powers are confined to dealing
with the public service.
DALY MAINTAINS CPO WRONG
Abdulah: Housing $$ fiasco hard to accept
Carmona has lost credibility
PNM rolls out 2015 governance plan
President Anthony Carmona
Dr Keith Rowley.
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