Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 12th 2015 Contents A10
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, Decmber 12, 2015
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A A C
Over 2,000 employees of the
National Reforestation Programme
are fearing a bleak Christmas as they
face their fourth month of working
The workers, spread across T&T,
have a mandate to replant 33,000
acres of denuded lands, 11,000 of
which are identified as watersheds.
The workers replanted areas affect-
ed by forest fires and other projects
to protect the watershed.
Choosing to remain anonymous,
one Trinidad contractor expressed
anxiety over the government s inabil-
ity to pay salaries.
"We are going on six fortnights
without salaries. I tell my workers to
hold on but they have families,
Christmas is coming and every day
they spend money to travel to come
to work and they aren t getting paid,"
the contractor said.
The Reforestation Programme falls
under the purview of the Ministry
of Agriculture after being moved from
the now non-existent Ministry of the
Environment following the general
"We haven t been paid since elec-
tions," said one worker.
"It s hard because we have obli-
gations, bills and children and so we
come to work and work hard but then
going more than two months without
getting paid is hard.
"When are we getting salary? What
is to happen between now and when
we getting salary?"
Director of the programme,
Dominic Pierre-Louis, said yesterday
that the programme was still waiting
on funding from the ministry.
"I have received calls from workers
who are concerned and I have given
them the information that we have,"
"The ministry told us they have
been waiting on a release of funds
from the Finance Ministry since Sep-
He said a lot of the workers are
single mothers and he understood
"I ve been told the Ministry of
Finance is working feverishly to get
"I m hoping that by early next
week we can have a positive
After an argument
with another man in
Marabella in April,
Patrick Pierre picked
up a handful of stones
and began throwing
them into the street.
Yesterday, he was
fined $175, or in default
will face 21 days in jail,
for his actions.
Pierre, 23, of Tarodale
Heights, Tarouba, was
also charged with mali-
cious wounding arising
out of the same inci-
dent, but he pleaded
not guilty to that
He was represented
by attorney Cedric
Neptune when he stood
before Deputy Chief
Wellington in the San
Seedan told the court
that around 6 pm on
April 23, the victim,
Kevin Stewart, was at
Union Park East, Mara-
bella, when he was
approached by Pierre
and another person.
The trio began argu-
ing and Pierre took up
several stones from the
roadway and started
Stewart made a
report to the Marabella
Police Station and PC
assigned to investigate.
On December 10,
Mohammed and other
officers went to Taro-
dale Heights, Tarouba,
met Pierre and told him
of a warrant for his
remained silent, he was
arrested and taken to
the Marabella Police
Neptune, in his plea
for mitigation, told the
court Pierre had no
Pierre to pay $175 or in
default face 21 days in
On the malicious
wounding charge he
was granted bail in the
sum of $10,000 with a
surety or $6,500 cash
The wounding matter
was adjourned to Jan-
y p B C y
y PHOTO: ANDRE ALEXANDER
The Government has reduced the
cost of tonight s NGC Group of Com-
panies Christmas party at Hyatt
Regency, in Port-of-Spain, from $1.2
million to $650,000.
This was revealed by Energy and
Energy Industries Minister Nicole
Olivierre in the House of Representa-
tives yesterday, while responding to a
question from Opposition Chief Whip
Ganga Singh. He wanted to know the
cost of the event.
Olivierre said the cost was $650,000
and then took her seat.
That prompted Singh to ask a sup-
"How does the minister reconcile
the hosting of the party at Hyatt Hotel
when there is a memo given to all state
enterprises, dated December 8, 2015,
to ensure that the budget for Christmas
events are modest and that no event
should be held at the Hilton, Hyatt and
the Raddison?" Singh asked.
Olivierre responded: "This event is
catering for 815 employees and their
She said the NGC "would have
already made the arrangement in April
of this year (under the then People s
Partnership government) and paid a 50
per cent downpayment to Hyatt. So a
50 per cent downpayment would have
been made at the time."
She added: "Prior to that memo
going out from the Government NGC
had already paid the remaining amount
of the money. So at the time the memo
went out it already was too late for
them to be able to do anything about
it."Ganga then asked the minister if she
was admitting that there was no
attempt made to renegotiate with the
Hyatt in the wake of the memo.
Olivierre said after the memo was
sent out NGC did engage the Hyatt.
"The original cost of the event would
have come up to $1.2 million," she said.
She said: "Subsequent to the memo
going out NGC did some rearrange-
ments. They were able to reduce the
per head cost and that is why it has
been brought down to $650,000."
$1.2m tab cut to $650,000
party scaled down
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