Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 2nd 2015 Contents Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
Wednesday, December 2, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
for 01ST DECEMBER, 2015
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Government is seeking to cut
"extravagant" spending by ministries
and state enterprises and will start
the exercise by slashing budgets for
annual Christmas parties and bonuses
Staff at several ministries, including
the Ministry of Housing and the
Office of the Attorney General, were
informed of the decision yesterday
with the holiday season moving into
The T&T Guardian learned that Min-
ister of Housing and Development Mar-
lene McDonald met with Housing
Development Corporation (HDC) staff
in Port-of-Spain yesterday to tell them
there would be no Christmas soiree or
bonuses this year.
This is a downgrade from last year,
when sources said the HDC spent a
reported $3 million on a fete-like bash
at the Hyatt Regency Hotel which fea-
tured performances by Machel Mon-
This year, the HDC staff will be
allowed small department celebrations.
According to a source close to the
Government, ministries have been cut-
ting costs by either cancelling Christmas
functions or lowering the scale of the
activities, compared to recent years.
In a telephone interview yesterday,
Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie
confirmed that a directive had been
given by Finance Minister Colm Imbert
to place constraints on expenditure for
"It s a decision that affects not just
state enterprises but also ministries,"
"It is meant to restrain extravagant
expenditure within the new economic
dispensation. The Government wants
to ensure there will be no more unnec-
essarily expensive Christmas parties
and extravagant bonuses," he added.
Cuffie said only profit-making com-
panies should be expected to pay
bonuses. He said organisations that
were funded directly by taxpayers had
no business giving bonuses.
He said the decision came after
review of the spending by the People s
Partnership over the past five years.
"There was no restraint in terms of
Christmas parties and bonuses," he
The Ministry of Finance s Treasury
Division will be hosting a staff function
to the cost of $424,742 at the Radisson
Hotel on Saturday.
The move to cut spending in these
areas was forewarned when Prime Min-
ister Dr Keith Rowley, then the Oppo-
sition Leader, had criticised the People s
Partnership on its Christmas spend-
The People s Partnership adminis-
tration had held annual million-dollar
toy distribution drives which then prime
minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said
were sponsored by private companies.
In addition, Persad-Bissessar s gov-
ernment held a number of children s
parties at the PM s residence in St
Ann s, as well as tea parties, luncheons
and dinners at ministries and state
enterprises for several groups, including
NGOs and media professionals.
Bonuses, ministry soirees out in...
A hotline telephone number has been set up to
allow people to share information they may have
on T&T nationals who may be heading to join inter-
national terrorist group ISIS.
The information, which can be given with anonymi-
ty, will be gathered and passed on to the relevant
authorities, including officials of the Ministry of
The hotline has been set up by Muslim activist
Inshan Ishmael, even as word is coming that three
more Trini nationals are preparing to head to Syria
to join ISIS fighters.
Speaking with the T&T Guardian yesterday, Ishmael
confirmed the increasing number of people leaving
to join ISIS and urged those who may have information
to call the hotline: 645-6397.
"If anyone knows anything and any such person,
please call. Many people are selling out all their assets
and even taking their children out of school so that
they can leave to join ISIS but what they don t realise
is that they are walking into an inferno," Ishmael
The T&T Guardian has received vital information
that three men in their late 20s from the Maloney
area will be leaving on Friday for the United States
and from there will fly through Europe and on to
Syria, where they will be met with ISIS recruiting
A relative of one of the men, who wished not to
be identified, told the T&T Guardian that family
members were now concerned and afraid for their
relative s life when he leaves T&T and from the ram-
ifications of his actions of their own as well.
Yesterday, Ishmael said after learning that 89-plus
T&T citizens had already left the country to join
ISIS, he, along with a local imam, had launched a
series on ISIS educating the Muslim community,
especially the new converts, on the reality of the ter-
rorist group and what it gave.
"A lot of people are not properly educated and
some of them are going to various mosques which
do not offer the true teachings of Islam and whose
leaders are not well educated and are being carried
"The true teaching of Islam is all about peace and
not violence. We do not believe in hurting a plant,
much less killing an innocent person and this is what
ISIS is teaching people, to be violent, to kill and really
and truly ISIS is fighting us, the Muslims," he said.
He added: "They are being taught that this is the
entrance to Paradise which is false. It is a blatant
lie."He warned Muslims, especially the new converts,
to be wary of recruiters.
"They are like sales reps just waiting to recruit the
newbies who are seeking what their former way of
belief did not offer them. People ought to be very
careful. These people play on the emotions of new
Muslims," he said.
The T&T Guardian was told that prospects are
being offered as much as US$2,000 a month for
training with ISIS and an additional US$1,500 for
the care of their respective families. However, when
they get there and meet with ISIS personnel they
are met with aggression and their documents, includ-
ing passports, are taken away from them.
"They have to realise that when they reach there,
their documents will be taken away from them and
their lives will be destroyed as well as their families
lives," Ishmael said.
Efforts to reach National Security Minister Edmund
Dillon for comment yesterday were unsuccessful and
calls to his cellphone went unanswered.
Hotline to expose
ISIS recruits set up
Contacted yesterday on the decision, Employers'
Consultative Association (ECA) CEO Joycelyn
Francois-Opadeyi said the country could not
expect business as usual.
"It is an adjustment staff will have to make.
Employees would have gotten used to certain
things. Anything that changes what they enjoy
may be a problem," Francois-Opadeyi said.
She said with the economic reality it had
become a priority for businesses to scale back on
"The substantiality of business must be a
priority because you can't spend on Christmas
dinners and bonuses but having no money to pay
staff in January.
"It's not a case of holding back, we have to trust
employers to make decisions in the best interest
of the business," she added.
She said once the rationale was clearly
communicated, right-thinking employees would
better understand the situation.
"It's not a secret. Our oil revenue isn't what we
would like it to be. We have been hearing the
diversification word around for years. Alternative
sources of income are the priority right now," she
Even parang groups are feeling the pinch.
National Parang Association PRO Michael
Lezama said in an interview groups who were
used to performing at government events were no
longer being contracted.
"It is both with the government and private
sector. A lot of them have cancelled their events
and it is really hurting parang performers," Lezama
He said in addition to not receiving an annual
subvention, a situation for the past five years,
parang groups were also losing work in the
economic climate and had only enjoyed one major
event in Lopinot last weekend.
Cuffie, second from
right, looks on as
Nursery play a
game of Scrabble
opening of the
Nalis public library
in Rio Claro. Also in
Edwards and MP
LITTLE LAMBS AT PLAY
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