Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 21st 2016 Contents A5
Thursday, January 21, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
T&T has become a "killing field" and every citizen
is in danger from cook to captain, Opposition Whip
Ganga Singh warned yesterday.
Singh was speaking in Parliament yesterday on an
Opposition motion seeking to annul Government s recent
proposal, via Legal Notice of December 16, last year, that
the Commissioner of Police be selected by criteria pre-
scribed by the President and subject to negative resolution
Singh filed a similar motion regarding Government s
proposal for selection of a deputy CoP.
Singh said the public was highly concerned about secu-
rity in T&T and the selection of a CoP and deputy CoP
was very important in view of the message emanating
Referring to crime reports in the T&T Guardian and
other dailies, he added: "Look at what is happening today
in T&T... this is why people will have interest regarding
safety and getting the selection of a CoP and deputy CoP
He said the PNM Government was taking an approach
where the people s trust was being betrayed and had not
consulted with stakeholders in the issue. Noting recent
statements by the Police Service Commission chairman
on lack of consultation on the issue, Singh also said there
was also lack of dialogue with police representative bodies
and even the Opposition.
"There has been no consultation... this is a Government
which says Let s do this together but you are doing this
alone by yourself due to lack of consultation. The PNM
is sticking to their mantra: Do as I say and not as I do. "
He said Parliament was also treated with disdain in
the issue. Singh noted while the Government s proposals
were published December 16, last year, Parliament s Stand-
ing Orders stated such instrument issues should be sub-
mitted to the Clerk of the House simultaneously as public
legal notice was made.
Singh said the matter was sent to Parliament January
4 and January 11. Questioning the delay, Singh said Oppo-
sition MP Rudy Indarsingh who sits on Parliament s Statu-
tory Instruments Committee wrote Government on the
issue, noting the Standing Order had been breached with
late delivery of the proposals.
Singh added: "We have to be very vigilant with the
way the PNM conducts business in order to protect our
Loan write-offs approved
Government yesterday wrote off sums, including over-
payments of $32,000 and $45,386 made to two Finance
and Social Development Ministry employees from the
past PNM administration s tenure and $383,229 concerning
a People s Partnership housing ministry matter.
In Parliament s Standing Finance Committee deliber-
ations, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said the $32,000
was written off since it was overpaid to a person who
was thought to have held certain qualifications and didn t.
He said the matter began in 2004 and was discovered
Another overpayment of $45,386 was made over eight
years to a Social Development employee from 2003 due
to an administrative error.
Also, the previous housing minister had obtained
approval to write off a $383,229 mortgage debt concerning
eight Sugar Welfare employees, unable to make payments.
The committee also sought a decrease in the Energy
Ministry s 2015 appropriation of $200 million and an
increase for Works Ministry of $200 million. Total sums
involved in the team s deliberations is $1.3 billion.
Leader of Government Business Camille Robinson-
Regis insisted a report on deliberations be debated tomor-
row but Opposition Whip Ganga Singh said tomorrow
is the Opposition s day for parliamentary business.
Murder surge surfaces in House...
Cook to captain in
danger, says Ganga
While there has been no Government
decision "at this stage" to cut the num-
ber of scholarships awarded to T&T
nationals pursuing tertiary level studies,
the "level of generosity that existed
before" may not be prevailing due to
T&T s stringent circumstances, Prime
Minister Dr Keith Rowley has warned.
The PM said so in reply to questions
from Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-
Bissessar during the segment on yester-
day s Parliament agenda relating to ques-
tions for the Prime Minister.
Persad-Bissessar had asked if a cutback
on scholarships was being proposed as
a cost- cutting initiative.
In response, Rowley said: "Govern-
ment has taken no decision at this stage
to specifically cut scholarships. What
we have done is indicate there s a require-
ment to cut back on operational expense
to the extent that we have been advised
by the relevant ministries how those cuts
can be made... and we will be so advised."
On whether UWI s Debe Campus for
the Law Faculty would register students
for the 2016-2017 academic year, Rowley
said that was a matter within UWI s
He said he did not want to give the
impression Government was involved in
He said he had no information from
UWI whether the campus could receive
students or if the university had taken
steps to ensure the physical facilities
On continuation of the Solomon
Hochoy Highway extension to Pt Fortin,
Rowley said Government had to first
find out how much public monies had
been spent and how much overpayment
was made before determining any future
Due to the volume of work to be done
on payments and design changes, he
said a statement would be made on the
project in the "not to distant future" in
Rowley said he didn t know how much
NIDCO s monthly report on project
spending might change the picture since
Government didn t have much confi-
dence in such reports where "overpay-
ments and redesigning had been hidden
from the public."
He also emphasised Government did
not propose to revise the policy on
importation of foreign used vehicles
which his Government changed a week
ago. Foreign used car dealers now have
to import cars not older than four years.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi says
the independence of the Police Service
Commission (PSC) was not under threat
by a provision in a new police Order gov-
erning the appointment of a police com-
missioner and deputy commissioner.
Al-Rawi said instead the autonomy of
the PSC was being broadened.
He sought to dismiss claims by the
Opposition that the new Orders were seek-
ing to interfere in the independence of the
He was speaking during the debate on
an Opposition motion, which began in the
House of Representatives yesterday, to
annul the Orders.
Al-Rawi spoke after Chief Whip Ganga
Singh presented the first motion. The new
Orders relate to the selection criteria and
process for the appointment of the top
police officers in the Police Service.
The Attorney General said there was
adequate consultation on the issue over
the past six years and because of the need
to appoint the officers the Government
was attempting to address the matter.
There has been no substantive Com-
missioner of Police in T&T since 2012 after
Canadian Dwayne Gibbs resigned. Stephen
Williams has been acting as commissioner
The Opposition had claimed a new pro-
vision to have the National Security Min-
ister request the PSC to contract an appro-
priate local firm to invite applications for
the jobs was effectively interfering with
the independence of the commission.
But Al-Rawi denied that claim yesterday.
"We have broadened the powers of the
PSC... it is the client, the Police Service
Commission, which dictates the terms of
reference by which the firm is to operate,"
he said, adding that "by setting terms of
reference, et cetera, we have in fact broad-
ened the powers and I wish to add that
we have removed restrictive conditions
contained in the 2009 Order.
"What we have said is that there is a
distinction between selection and recruit-
ment. It allows the client to dictate the
terms of reference and far from being a
restriction on the PSC, this is a broadening
of its mandate which it has ben crying for
the last umpteen (several) years," he added.
He said the provision for the minister
was "merely requesting that the process
be started is not to the exclusion of the
PSC. They maintain unto themselves their
autonomy where the unduly prescriptive
approach has been removed."
Al-Rawi told legislators: "They (PSC),
as the client through the Central Tenders
Board Act, have the liberty to dictate their
own terms of reference through the Direc-
tor of Personnel Administration (DPA)."
Al-Rawi insisted: "It is the commission
and only the commission that has the
power to select and appoint. They could
turn it upside down, they could get a list
from the firm, they could take number
five and put it number one. They could
do anything they wish with the firms rec-
ommendations but it is their power alone."
Noting a threat by the Opposition to
initiate legal action if the motions were,
as expected defeated, Al-Rawi said: "What
we have done is purely within the remit
of the law and constitutionality.
"It is proportionate, in that it allows a
process to move faster, the PSC does not
lose any of its autonomy, it and it alone
makes the decision for a PSC to act within
the appointment of a commissioner of
police and a deputy commissioner of
The minister said the new provision
was intended to "ensure that at least there
is another arm watching but not crossing
the line of where that boundary should
AG dismisses Opposition's claims...
New police Order
no threat to PSC
Rowley hints of scholarship cuts
Leader of Government Business in the House of Representatives, Camille Robinson-
Regis, centre, has the full attention of her colleagues during the tea-break in
Parliament yesterday. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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