Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 7th 2017 Contents tobagotoday.co.tt June 7 - 2017
You can run but not hide
Independent Senator David Small yes-
terday read the Riot Act to directors of
the Education Facilities Company Ltd
(EFCL) who failed to show up for a Joint
Select Committee (JSC) meeting in Par-
liament, accusing them of absconding and
threatening to have them summoned to
the next sitting.
"The EFCL board members seem to have
gone into hiding. But they can run but they
can't hide," Small, the JSC chairman,
The JSC had called EFCL and other gov-
ernment officials to explore the efficiency
and effectiveness of the State-owned com-
pany, which is responsible for construction,
maintenance, repair, outfitting and furnish-
ing of schools and for the textbook rental
The board was installed by the People's
National Movement (PNM) after it came
into Government in September 2015. The
old board was fired following allegations
But the new board has also been under
fire for similar allegations, including the
awarding of multiple contracts to various
entities under one parent company and
having a board director award tenders to a
company he has links with.
Small minced no words as he chastised
the absent board members, saying their no
show was gross disrespect and will not be
tolerated. They thumbed their noses at the
people of T&T, he said.
He said the committee was left extreme-
ly dissatisfied, disappointed and in despair.
He said board members wanted to be in
charge of State companies but did not want
to be accountable to the public, but those
in charge of State resources must be
EFCL chairman Arnold Piggott, who
resigned last Friday to protect his reputa-
tion and family's name, he said, was absent.
"The chairman decided to move on,"
Small said, apparently forgiving his absence.
But Small had a major problem with the
no show of EFCL vice-chairman, Ricardo
Vasquez, and members Indu Sharma, Chris-
topher Braithwaite, Anthony Bisnath, Jeffrey
Julien-Francis, Dean Burgen and Steven
Samlalsingh. He repeated their names at
the start and end of the meeting.
"The vice-chairman decided not to be
present for personal reasons. It seems he
has more pressing things to attend to than
account to the people. The committee takes
serious umbrage to that."
Small praised lone director Clyde Permell
for turning up, saying his mother had taught
To compound the situation, the JSC heard
board members were summoned to a man-
datory meeting with Education Minister
Anthony Garcia at 2 pm yesterday.
EFCL directors, if they had attended,
would have had to rush from the JSC, which
usually ends at 12.30 pm, to the 2 pm meet-
ing with Garcia.
Small said the JSC is not judge and jury,
but any attempt to stymie its work will be
met with the stiffest resistance.
Addressing EFCL directors who may have
been watching the JSC sitting via its live
stream, he drew their attention to Standing
Orders of Parliament that give the com-
mittee power to issue summons to make
people attend meetings. He said his com-
mittee was giving this option "active con-
sideration," since they plan to call the EFCL
to a second hearing and this time there
will be no "wiggle room.
"They have to understand that when they
are summoned they have to appear. The
marshal of Parliament can summon them
but I don't want to go that way."
Small said JSC members had many ques-
tions to ask the EFCL about the allegations
swirling around it but its directors were
not there to answer them.
JSC boss slams EFCL board for missing session
Garcia reads Riot Act also
There are big changes ahead for Education
Facilities Company Limited (EFCL) man-
Education Minister Anthony Garcia yes-
terday read the Riot Act to board members
as he announced vice chairman Ricardo
Vasquez would act as chairman following
the resignation of former chairman Arnold
Garcia hinted that "significant changes"
will be made to the board and senior man-
agement at the company, which "may involve
additions to the board and some members
of management having to revert to their
Garcia signalled his intention as he met
with the board yesterday, according to an
Education Ministry statement.
Piggott resigned last Friday following alle-
gations of corruption, nepotism and mis-
management levelled against the EFCL in
recent weeks. The Attorney General's office
and Finance Ministry are now conducting
audits on EFCL. Piggott resigned citing fam-
ily commitments and "the protection of my
reputation and family name.
During yesterday's meeting with the EFCL
board, where a revamping mandate was
issued, Garcia told directors that he was
disappointed over several issues. This includ-
ed the board's operations, reporting lines not
being adhered to, retrenchment exercises,
the slow pace of construction works being
carried out and the process to be undertak-
en when emergency repairs are to be under-
taken when schools are forced to close.
Garcia stressed his ministry should be
notified in writing of any changes to upper
management in the company. He also
expressed dismay over the lack of confiden-
tiality amongst EFCL staff members.
The press statement didn't detail what
"significant changes" will be made to the
board and senior management. But it did
say other board members may be brought
in and some management officials will have
to return to posts they held before.
Vasquez, the statement noted, promised
to revamp the entire reporting process and
liaise directly with the ministry's executive
team on any staff changes. He said all infra-
structural works will be dealt with expedi-
tiously, in particular the Morvant/Laventille
Secondary School, which has been closed
for the last month because of a pigeon infes-
Vasquez also said the 10 schools under the
New School Construction programme will
be treated with urgency. On the issue of lack
of confidentiality in the company, he said
he would be employing "strict measures to
prevent this from occurring."Trinidan Guardian
Education Minister Anthony Garcia.
A view of Roxborough Beach.
Links Archive June 6th 2017 June 8th 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page