Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 8th 2015 Contents A8
March 8, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
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Disciplinary action is in the works for
certain divisions of the Airports Authority
of T&T for the continued use of a particular
salary range despite a directive not to use
Finance Minister Larry Howai and Trans-
port Minister Stephen Cadiz have confirmed
Howai spoke about the issue in Parliament
last Friday while replying to a question from
People s National Movement MP Donna Cox
on the situation.
She had asked who was responsible for
salaries being paid at the AATT to certain
officials---said to be in the security division
---which police and prison officers are now
hoping to use as the benchmark in their
own current salary negotiations. Both secu-
rity sectors have attempted to use the levels
of salary for key AATT officials as a com-
parative figure, but the chief personnel officer
has said this cannot be used.
Howai said the AATT salaries in question
were not given with management team s
approval. He said two years ago the AATT
was asked to roll back the salaries and the
Transport Ministry is now establishing a
Cox asked who had given the salaries and
why. Howai, silent on the specifics, said
instructions had been given to deal with the
situation via disciplinary action, adding a
new range of salaries will be decided on
Contacted on the issue, Cadiz said the
ministry s permanent secretary had instruct-
ed the AATT not to pay the salaries, but
they were implemented by the management.
He said this occurred under a previous board.
He said the matter, which occurred before
his tenure, is being dealt with but the salaries
are still being paid.
Asked how this would be recouped or
handled, he said the ministry would have
to take whatever "action is necessary" on
the situation, but was determined to correct
it.In Parliament, Howai, commenting on the
police/prisons negotiations, said 12 meetings
had been held with the parties and he and
an inter-ministerial team involved have given
the CPO new guidelines to work with.
Howai said it was expected this would
bring the issue closer to agreement. He could
not say exactly when this would be com-
pleted, but added the new guidelines would
give the CPO more room to negotiate and
move the process forward when next the
security sector parties meet.
The National Gas Company (NGC) came
under fire in Parliament on Friday, as Point
Fortin MP Paula Gopee-Scoon accused the
state enterprise of abusing funds to promote
the People s Partnership in its $20 million
"ifhappiness" media campaign.
Gopie-Scoon, citing the campaign as highly
political media, contended that the campaign
logo has incorporated Government s trade-
mark PP into its tag-line as a means to "fool"
and "confuse" the public.
"It is wrong, it is bold, it is reckless," Gopie-
Scoon declared in her contribution to the
debate on the Trademarks Bill (2015) in the
House of Representatives.
The campaign, which features a media
blitz of television, full page newspaper adver-
tisements and radio spots, came under scruti-
ny as questions have been raised about expen-
diture at the state company.
In the media campaign, the "pp" in hap-
piness is often highlighted in a different
colour to the entire word and features a smile
beneath the two letters, she noted.
This, she said, is clearly aimed as high-
lighting the Government s trademark PP
through the use of state funds.
"I do not know if the Government is really
serious about upholding it. I am really, really
concerned by the facade of that advertisement
using the PP trademark for the purpose of
political, fooling the public," she said.
While the PNM MP agreed that PP is
not a registered trademark, she reminded
deputy House Speaker Nela Khan and MPs
that the two letters were "common law trade-
Gopie-Scoon took the Government and
NGC to task over the issue.
"I think it is utterly absurd and wrong
that the trade mark PP should be used in
"I think it is very political and I think that
you are coming here now and you are pro-
moting this (Trademark) legislation and you
are making a mockery of the legislation when
you have done something like that, because
this is a blatantly wrong and corrupt exercise
by the NGC," Gopie-Scoon said, questioning
what the theme "happiness" had to do with
the NGC s mandate or its mission.
Gopee-Scoon also pointed to the Coca-
Cola Open Happiness advertising campaign
as she expressed concern that the NGC may
have infringed on the soft drink giant s media
"They (NGC) are attempting to use state
funds to promote for party promotion pur-
poses. But in fact they are stealing from
Coca-Cola and I would not be too surprised
if some kind of inquiry or so should come
from Coca-Cola about the use of their Open
Happiness trademark. I am concerned about
that," she said.
The MP also pointed out that in 2010
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, then
an Opposition MP, wrote to the Auditor Gen-
eral complaining about a similar issue. She
offered, through a letter, legal opinion about
the PNM s 2010 advertising campaign and
queried the use of state funds for political
One of Persad-Bissessar s contentions in
that letter, Gopie-Scoon said, was the fact
that the advertisements were not labelled as
paid political advertisements.
"It is very hypocritical of them (govern-
ment) to come here using the PP trademarks,
it is not statutorised but it is a common law
trademark and it is really hypocritical of the
Government to come here and espouse this
piece of legislation," she added.
She said the bill needs wider consultation
from appropriate experts and should be sent
to a Joint Select Committee for review.
Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar,
who piloted the bill, said Gopie-Scoon started
off well in her contribution, but got side
tracked. The debate was later adjourned.
The Media Association of T&T will hold
fresh executive elections on April 11.
Yesterday, Matt members agreed on the
election date and March 23 as nomination
day after they met in a special emergency
session at the National Library, Port of Spain.
The meeting was called by senior jour-
nalists after Matt s executive, led by president
Curtis Williams, collapsed last month throw-
ing the association into disarray.
The journalists yesterday agreed to the
establishment of an interim three-member
governing body, with an alternate member,
to take the association forward and put sys-
tems in place for the elections.
Senior journalist Sunity Maharaj, managing
director of the Lloyd Best Institute of the
West Indies, Dale Enoch (a former Matt pres-
ident) and Guardian Media Ltd journalist
Kalifa Clyne were named on the interim
body. Their mandate is to take the Matt to
elections. Vindhar Suraj, of Jaagriti Com-
munications, was named alternate member.
Dr Shelia Rampersad and Vernon Khelawan
volunteered to support the interim governing
body in its work.
At the meeting, which was chaired by
Enoch and Wesley Gibbings, secretary of the
Association of Caribbean Media Workers),
various concerns were raised about MATT s
future and its relevance.
Also present at the meeting was president
of the T&T Broadcasters and Publishers
Association Daren Lee Sing and vice president
Kavita Maharaj. They both implored jour-
nalists to work together to keep the asso-
ciation, which was formed in 1987, togeth-
er.Rampersad said it was critical that MATT s
executive is installed quickly, especially with
a general election looming.
Gopee-Scoon knocks NGC media blitz:
MATT election set for April 11
convenor of the
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