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SRC distances itself from
Carmona’s housing allowance
The Salaries Review Commis-
sion (SRC) has not been involved
in the decision to grant a housing
allowance to President Anthony
Carmona, a letter from the per-
sonnel department on behalf of
the SRC has stated.
This “directly contradicts” what
Carmona has said on the situation
and if the SRC statements are true,
then the implications for this coun-
try are “terrifying”, attorney Justin
Phelps has said.
The letter from the personnel de-
partment stating that the SRC was
not involved in the decision to grant
the housing allowance to Carmona is
dated November 7 and was sent to
Phelps in response to five Freedom
of Information Act (FOIA) requests
he sent to Chief Personnel Officer
Beresford Riley one month earlier.
Phelps, on behalf of his client ac-
tivist Rhoda Bharath, wrote Riley on
The Sunday Guardian obtained a
copy of both letters.
Carmona assumed office as this
country’s president on March 18.
It was revealed that Carmona re-
ceived a tax-free housing allowance
of $28,000 a month from July 2013
to May 2015 despite also being pro-
vided with state accommodation at
Carmona addressed the situation
during a televised address on Sep-
He explained that: “The Chair-
man and Members of the Salaries
Review Commission (SRC), through
its secretary the Chief Personnel Of-
ficer (CPO) decided in the context of
what can only be deemed deplorable
conditions that the President and his
family were living in, granted him the
“The Salaries Review Commission
that granted the housing allowance
was not appointed by His Excellency
Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmo-
na ORTT, SC. This Salaries Review
Commission, at the time of approval,
was appointed by His Excellency the
fourth President Prof George Max-
well Richards ORTT.
“Using the President’s Official
Residence—the Great House—as
the standard, the Flagstaff residence
was not, and cannot, be considered
“suitable alternative accommoda-
tion”. I did not make the decision
nor did I coerce, suggest, authorise
or impose that decision of the SRC.
It was made by an independent SRC,
together with its Secretary, who by
letter dated 7 July 2013, informed me
that I would receive the allowance
during that period I occupied such
One week after Carmona’s address,
Phelps wrote Riley under Section 13
of the FOIA seeking information with
regard to the housing allowance to the
President and asking for the “details
of the date on which that decision
was made and by whom.”
Phelps also asked for the “details
of the ground (s) upon the basis of
which that decision was made” and
“details of any Cabinet or Parliamen-
tary authorisation for such additional
expenditure of State Funds”.
When the personnel department
responded, it stated that the SRC
“had not been involved in the alleged
The SRC also denied ever having
the July 2013 letter referred to by
“There is no correspondence be-
tween the SRC and the President or
anyone on his behalf or record of any
meeting with the President or any-
one on his behalf” during the period
March 2013 to August 2013 the Per-
sonnel Department’s letter stated.
Speaking to the Sunday Guardian
on the situation, Phelps said this was
cause for concern.
“If the position of the SRC is true,
the implications for Trinidad and To-
bago are terrifying. Our democracy
depends for its survival on the in-
tangible but fundamental legitimacy
that resides in the institutions that
make and enforce law and maintain
law and order. Where the Head of
State appears to lack the legitimacy
to exercise that authority the rule
of law and maintenance of law and
order are being gambled with. In
other words, the murdering, abuse
and general rampant crime are hard-
ly likely to diminish where there is a
perception that compliance with the
law is optional,” Phelps said.
Phelps said the “obvious question”
now is “if the SRC did not participate
in the decision to pay the housing al-
lowance, why did the President say
what he did to the people of Trinidad
Phelps said the total amount of
pubic funds involved here is about
$600,000 and citizens must agitate
for an investigation into the matter.
“The SRC letter compounds the
suspicions which have been hang-
ing over the allowance received by
the President. But it means nothing
unless the ultimate source of consti-
tutional power, the citizens, agitate
for an investigation. I have seen no
evidence that that is on the horizon.
That is not a cynical view—when
this issue was first raised in 2014
the President merely went silent
for two years. No one did anything
at all. The silence strategy worked.
The President is silent again. It will
work again unless people get mo-
bilised. The CoP (Commissioner of
Police) has not been persuaded to act,
and no one is asking him to, except
my client,” he said.
Phelps has written to CoP Stephen
Williams four times but has not re-
ceived a response.
Acting Police Commissioner Har-
old Phillip was written on October 26
and 30, while Williams was written
on November 11 and 29.
Attempts to contact Williams to
confirm whether he received the
letters and the status of the matter
Phelps said Bharath has instructed
him to take action against the Auditor
General in order to get more infor-
mation with respect to the housing
Attempts to contact the President’s
communications adviser Theron
Boodan via phone calls and texts
for a response to the situation were
Killers run rampant as six murdered
Killers ended 2016 with a
bang with six murders being
recorded in four separate in-
cidents across the country be-
tween Friday and yesterday
A seventh man was reported to
be brain-dead following one of the
Even before the killing spree,
however, the murder toll for 2016
was the highest this country has
seen in six years.
The murder toll was 461 up to
Among the murders was the
shooting death of four men in
Beverly Hills, Laventille, which
resulted in senior officers of the
Port-of-Spain Division calling an
emergency meeting yesterday.
The bloodshed began around
10.40 pm on Friday when a teenag-
er was stabbed to death following
an argument over money.
Dead is 18-year-old Zion Murray.
According to reports, Murray, of
Jack Terrace in Enterprise, was at
School Lane in Enterprise, when
he had an altercation with another
man over money. The man stabbed
Murray in the chest and ran away.
Murray died on the spot.
The second incident took place
around 11 pm on Friday in Caparo.
Officers of the Brasso Seco Police
Station responded to a man lying
motionless along the Caparo Valley
Road in the vicinity of the breed-
ing unit. PCs Ramoutar and Badall
found a man of mixed descent with
a low hairstyle approximately six
feet tall lying face down. He had
a gunshot wound to the left side
of his head.
District Medical Officer Dr Bir-
jah visited the scene and ordered
the removal of the body to the San
Fernando Mortuary pending a post
mortem to be conducted at the St
James Forensic Science Centre.
After boasting a significant drop
in killings in the Port-of-Spain
Division this year, four men were
murdered in Laventille on Friday
One of the four dead men was
described by police as a gang leader.
He was identified as Sherwin
Balthazar, who owned a car wash
in Maloney, was gunned down at
Beverly Hills around 11 pm.
A couple hours later, gunshots
were heard in the area, and three
men were killed.
Officers believe the shooting of
the three men was a revenge for
The three men were not identi-
fied by police yesterday.
Another man, nicknamed “Dirt-
sman”, was shot in the eye and was
warded at hospital up to late yes-
...2016 murder toll highest in six years
Attorney Justin Phelps and political commentator Rhoda Bharath during a press conferenece in October.
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
SUNDAY GUARDIAN AWARDS 2016 The Sunday Guardian has highlighted a few very deserving
awardees in some very underrated categories
See Page A26
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