Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 12th 2014 Contents 6.0000
for 11TH DECEMBER, 2014
Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
Friday, December 12, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Local executives of Brazilian construction
giant OAS Construtora are tight-lipped about
whether the arrests of top company executives
in Brazil will have any impact on the con-
struction of the Solomon Hochoy Highway
extension to Point Fortin.
The executives were accused of making bribe
payments to politicians and committing admin-
istrative irregularities in several Latin American
OAS is the main contractor on the Govern-
ment's $7.4 billion highway project, which is
being supervised by Nidco.
Contacted on his cellphone yesterday, OAS
country supervisor Rodrigo Ventura reserved
"I will get in touch with you later," Ventura
OAS's production manager Alvaro Antonia-
Silva-Lopes was also unavailable for comment.
However, Works Minister Dr Suruj Ram-
bachan said the internal matters involving OAS
Construtora were of no concern to him and
the corruption scandal involving OAS would
have no impact on the construction of the
He added: "Our highway construction will
not be impacted upon because of this inter-
national matter. We have a firm contract with
OAS and they have to deliver.
"Their internal matters are not of any concern
to me. I am concerned only with OAS fulfilling
their obligations and contract which they signed
Last week, Junior Works Minister Stacy Roop-
narine also said the highway construction proj-
ect would not be affected by the OAS involve-
ment in the scandal in Brazil.
But a source at Nidco said yesterday it was
not surprising OAS had found itself in an inter-
national corruption scandal.
"Over the past few months there were several
administrative changes in the company. We saw
many new faces on the local scene," the official
Earlier this week, Brazil's federal prosecutor's
office announced it was charging 35 people in
connection with a massive corruption scheme
at Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras. The
officials are accused of corruption, money laun-
dering and forming a criminal organisation.
Brazil's OAS bosses
charged, locals mum
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar
yesterday distanced herself from the now
controversial distribution of vouchers to
"special journalists" at her annual media
Christmas function last week, saying it was
done without her knowledge.
She made the comment while in Tobago
for yesterday's Cabinet sitting and distribution
of toys, saying she gave no instructions for
cash vouchers to be distributed at the event,
which was held at the Diplomatic Centre,
The issue became public earlier this week
after a media report claimed the Government
had sought to buy out journalists at the func-
tion by surreptitiously giving out the vouchers,
worth $1,000 and redeemable at Massy Food
Stores, to selected journalists.
The vouchers were reportedly handed
out in envelopes to the journalists, some
of whom latter confessed to their colleagues
when questioned about it. Some of the
recipients have since provided photos of
the vouchers to the media. The vouchers
were accompanied by a pamphlet which
conveyed compliments of the season and
featured the PM's photo and signature.
But asked about the gesture yesterday,
Persad-Bissessar, while not flatly denying
that the vouchers were given out, said if it
did occur she was not aware of it since she
did not authorise such an activity.
"I gave no such instructions. If it was done,
it was not on my instructions at all.
"Certainly, no monies came out of the
Office of the Prime Minister for that purpose,
nor from the Ministry of the People and
Social Development," she added. Minister of
Trade and Communication Vasant Bharath
also claimed the report was false.
PM distances self from media gifts...
'I gave no such order'
Media Association president Curtis
Williams, who had earlier condemned the
act although admitting he had no
evidence it did occur, last night welcomed
Persad-Bissessar's statement that she
did not give any such instructions.
"My concern however is whether there
is any credibility in the story," he said.
Williams said he did not expect any
journalist who received the cash voucher
"would come forward."
He added: "There may be journalists
who would understand the ethical
dilemma that causes and would take the
necessary decision to reveal what has
happened - if indeed it has happened -
and to return the vouchers."
While pointing out that he was "in no
way giving credence to the notion that
this in fact happened," Williams added:
"Quite often, where there is smoke there
Williams said he hoped "this is nothing
but an unnecessary rumour but at the
same time one has to be vigilant and
ensure that kind of thing does not occur."
MATT BOSS RESPONDS
FROM GUARDIAN MEDIA LTD'S CODE OF ETHICS
• Do not accept personal gifts valued
at more than approximately $200. If a
gift has more than a nominal value, it
may only be accepted with the approval
of the editor in chief/head of news and
the managing director.
• Do not request or accept money,
travel, goods, discounts, entertainment,
or inducements of any kind.
• Bribes are to be rejected promptly
and the EIC/head of news informed
• The EIC/head of news has the
absolute right to decide whether to
accept an offer, who should be assigned
and whether a report is
published/broadcast as a consequence.
These conditions must be made clear to
whoever made the offer.
• Gifts of cash or vouchers for any sum
are not to be accepted.
• Never use your employment with
GML as a means of gaining any form of
entitlement or benefit for yourself or
The issue had also sparked heated debate
among journalists on social media web
sites. Some of them have defended their
colleagues while others have lashed out at
them, saying it is acts like these which
continue to tarnish the profession.
Many media houses, including Guardian
Media Ltd, have policies which deal with the
acceptance of gifts from parties, especially
during the Christmas season where several
companies offer such incentives.
While some media houses forbid
journalists from accepting any seasonal
gifts, GML's code of ethics forbids them
from accepting cash or vouchers, but allows
gifts valued at under $200 unless
permission is sought and okayed by the
DEBATE WITHIN FRATERNITY
Some of the vouchers which
were distributed to certain
members of the media during
the Prime Minister's media
appreciation function last week.
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