Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 21st 2015 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, October 21, 2015
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What seems like a growing war between Nation-
al Security Minister Edmund Dillon and former
national security minister Gary Griffith intensified
yesterday as each gave conflicting statements
about the planned $12 million purchase of six
Light Armoured Personnel Carriers (LAPCs) dur-
ing the last administration.
Dillon is charging that "a former national security
minister" just ordered six LAPCs without any pro-
He said the minister wrote an Israeli firm con-
firming the purchase on his own.
Griffith, identifying himself as the minister, said
it was the Defence Force who wanted 30 LAPCs
for their soldiers on patrol in volatile crime areas
and he reduced it to six.
He said what he wrote to the Israeli firm was a
letter of intent and that was based on a note drafted
by the Defence Force.
Dillon, during his budget presentation in the
Lower House recently, said a "former national secu-
rity minister" ordered the six LAPCs without the
knowledge of the ministry's permanent secretary.
"There was no procurement, he simply wanted
six and he ordered six," he said.
Dillon said it was because of that alleged faux
pas he would be reviewing the tender.
The Ministry of National Security sent out another
media release yesterday on the matter.
Declaring Dillon's statement in Parliament was
accurate, it added that the process for acquisition
of the LAPCs actually began in 2014.
"On September 10, 2014 four firms were invited
to submit their tenders. On October 20, 2014 three
of the four firms submitted tenders for the provision
of the LAPCs.
"In May of 2015, a Special Evaluation Committee
visited one of these companies in Israel to evaluate
its LAPC vehicles," it added.
However, according to the ministry, the alleged
blunder came on January 27, 2015 when, unknown
to the permanent secretary or the Procurement
and Legal Units of the ministry, the former minister
of national security "unilaterally gave assurance,
by way of a letter to the director of the Israeli com-
pany, of the purchase of six LAPCs by the govern-
The release said the minister informed the director,
among other things, to "proceed as previously dis-
cussed...to complete the purchase for the LAPCs
as highest priority for urgent delivery."
The release said the minister further advised that
the purchase order would be received and deposited
in the near future.
Imbert on property tax:
"likely" exempt pension-
ers and people living on
fixed incomes from the
property tax, Finance
Minister Colm Imbert
He did so in the Senate
debate of the 2016 budget
while again outlining
budget areas. The budget
was passed in the House
of Representatives on
Imbert said the last
waiver, which had been in
place for the last five years,
on the property tax would
end on December 31. He
said the tax would be rein-
stituted from next year at
the old rates.
He said there would be
a special regime for elderly
and lower income levels.
For instance, he said, peo-
ple living in Woodbrook
whose property may have
risen in value and who are
pensioners or living on
fixed incomes, would likely
be exempt from the tax in
order for the situation to
Imbert also said Gov-
ernment had already start-
ed speaking to the Central
Bank on reducing the for-
eign exchange demand.
This week, he added,
Government would meet
the Central Bank to
request a return to the
pre-2014 Forex system and
to ensure that legitimate
demands would be met.
Imbert said the demand
was one of the biggest
problems cited at pre-
budget forums and by
business groups. He said
Government would have
an open door policy for all
stakeholder groups in
business so that Govern-
ment could know of the
challenges being faced.
He added Government
would be moving to reg-
ulate the casino/gaming
sector which at the present
time in its unregulated
state, could be facilitating
money laundering, crime
and other social ills.
He said Government
would pass the Gaming
Act after consultations
with stake-holders and
Imbert said the T&T
Unified Teachers Associ-
ation felt Government
should institute some form
of means for testing people
who were wealthy regard-
ing GATE application.
He said Government
had to consider if someone
earning $150,000 a month
should get free universal
education with GATE
since GATE targetted
those who needed assis-
On revival of the TT
(TTRA), Imbert said as
much as $5 billion was
estimated to be lost in rev-
enue due to non-collection
and the TTRA would pro-
vide a means to facilitate
Read, Watch, Cash jackpot now $9,500
Dillon, Griffith differ on purchase of LAPCs
Griffith told the T&T Guardian he was the
national security minister Dillon was referring to
and denied he wrote the Israeli firm specifically to
give assurance of the purchase of the LAPCs.
"It was a letter of intent, giving the specifications
of the LAPCs that the Defence Force wanted. The
letter was to confirm that the Israeli LAPCs were
what the Defence Force wanted," he said.
Charging Dillon with playing politics rather than
dealing with national security, Griffith said it was
the Defence Force that had wanted the LAPCs.
He said they wanted it for soldiers whose lives
were at risk as they went out on patrols in volatile
crime hot spots in the back of pick-up vehicles.
He said it was the Defence Force, after a lot of
research, that found the Israeli firm and then met
regularly with national security officials over the
"It was not anyone in the ministry who selected
the firm. Dillon said I just ordered six LAPCs but
the Defence Force has asked for 30. Based on
budget allocation to the ministry, I decided on six,"
Griffith said it was also the Defence Force that
drafted the note to send to Israel confirming the
specifications of the LAPCs.
"The soldiers were afraid for their lives and they
pleaded with me to have the vehicles acquired as
quickly as possible."
Griffith said Defence Force members actually went
to Israel in connection with the matter. He said the
purchase of the vehicles was delayed because of
ministry beauracracy and red tape.
He is predicting that if the tender was reopened
the Defence Force will select the same model of
LAPCs and the same Israeli firm.
Griffith said Dillon seemed to be focussing more
on making political statements in relation to
national security rather than tackling crime.
He vowed if any soldier was killed while
patrolling any crime hot spot before the LAPCs
were purchased, he would hold Dillon responsible.
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