Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 7th 2013 Contents A5
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last night
confirmed criminals were using illegal cellphones
in the nation's prisons to co-ordinate murders and
other criminal acts across the country.
Persad-Bissessar said that was confirmed by the
National Security Council after investigations were
conducted into the claim, which was first raised by
former national security minister Martin Joseph in
the Senate almost five years ago.
Persad-Bissessar was speaking at the UNC's Monday
Night Forum in Gasparillo. She said the People's Part-
nership Government was strong and solid as a rock.
She said as the Government neared its third anniver-
sary she was not about to engage in old talk. The time
for talk was over and it was now time for action, she
Persad Bissessar told party faithfuls about "a new"
crime-fighting initiative to be taken against the illegal
use of cellphones by criminals in jail to commit further
"You would think when the courts put the criminals
behind bars that would end the problem. But far from
it," she said.
She recalled a conversation she had with a man
who told her "he got a phone call and after ten minutes
into the conversation he realised he was speaking with
a man who was in Golden Grove Prison on a gun-
related charge, who was telling him to send him a $20
Persad-Bissessar said it was not the first time she
heard such claims so the matter was researched.
She said the criminals were "continuing to run their
organisations from inside the jail by obstructing police
investigations and "calling shots on witnesses, as the
criminals like to say. So we researched the problem
and found a solution and are taking action."
She added: "As head of the National Security Council
I can tell you, here tonight, that illegal cellphones in
prisons are among one of the largest public-safety
risks facing us today and I, as Prime Minister, will
put them out of business. The cellphone business in
prisons will end. "
Persad-Bissessar said the National Security Council
"has moved to implement mobile phone signal jam-
mers. This technology can find phones and block calls
as well as text messages from unapproved numbers
within our prisons. We will cut them off."
She said: "The time for talk is over and that includes
the criminals behind bars. "
Chaguanas West issue
Dealing with the Chaguanas West issue, where a
by-election is to be called shortly, Persad-Bissessar
said she wanted to set the records straight.
She said every member of the UNC has a right
to seek the nomination for the by-election in the
"So we will follow the rules and we will let the
screening committee of our party determine who
the candidate will be. "
Persad-Bissessar said every member, including
the political leader, must follow the rules.
She added: "No one member is bigger or more
important than the party. The by-election is not an
issue tonight because the Speaker is yet to declare
the seat vacant although the MP had resigned on
"Let us not get ahead of ourselves. When the
Speaker declares the seat vacant our national
executive will meet and work out the details and I
will announce a date for that election."
She said the PP remained strong and united.
"So, don't be troubled about Chaguanas West.
Don't be troubled about your party.Your party is in
good hands," she added.
As a second board of the
Urban Development Corpora-
tion of T&T Limited (Udecott)
was installed yesterday Minis-
ter of Housing and the Envi-
ronment Dr Roodal Moonilal
said the organisation was "no
longer the centre of controversy
It was subject to the Uff com-
mission of enquiry which tabled
Top priority for Udecott's new
board was the controversial Brian
Lara Cricket Stadium, Tarouba,
Moonilal said during yesterday's
"We have received a report
recently and it was an assess-
ment of the stadium and it is
before the Cabinet at this time
and I cannot speak of that in
detail but the Cabinet is now
considering professional advice
on that project.
"We have other projects
which are outstanding which
would require some professional
input and then some strong
Cabinet decisions to be made,"
Three of Udecott's former
board members were reinstated.
They were chairman Jearlean
John, also managing director of
the Housing Development Cor-
poration (HDC), Glenn Parmas-
sar, forensic expert, and Shankar
Bidaisee, one of Udecott's direc-
tors who is also an attorney.
Among the seven newly-
installed directors was Rennie
Mohammed, brother of Sasha
Mohammed, former adviser to
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
Sasha resigned from her post
two years ago after it was report-
ed she sent threatening e-mails
to Express editor-in-chief
Omatie Lyder and reporter Anna
Asked what was Rennie's spe-
cific job description Moonilal
said he believed Rennie was in
On Udecott's transformation
Moonilal said: "We have brought
calmness to the management.
We have brought some measure
of transparency and incorporated
a governance model that allows
us to manage in real time."
Paying tribute to John,
Moonilal said she was respon-
sible for "stabilising the ship"
over the last few years and
ensuring the company did not
make "some of the grave mis-
takes" of the past.
Udecott was now not only
managed by a line ministry but
also sub-committees of Cabinet
and it regularily accounted for
its work to the Finance and Gen-
eral Purpose Committee of Cab-
inet, he added.
"Even permission to travel
must be granted by the line min-
ister. It is not a free-for- all
where persons can do anything
Giving advice to the new
board, Moonilal said they must
maintain a level of "management
and political control" to ensure
there was transparency, respon-
sibility and accountability at all
Udecott's new board:
• Chairman Jearlean John
• Deputy chairman Glenn
• Director Shankar Bidaisee
• Director Stephen Pilgrim
• Director Anil Bridglal
• Director Marlon Morris
• Director Prem Samodee
• Director Rennie
• Director Aijegoro Ome
The Urban Development Corporation
(Udecott) currently has a mandate of 74
projects, costing just over $19 billion.
So said Jearlean John as she was reappointed
as the company's chairman at a brief cere-
mony at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain,
Saying board members were "really taking
care of Udecott's business," John pointed out
that the organisation no longer made the
front pages of the newspapers in a negative
"It is not by guess we have taken ourselves
off the front pages. Udecott will continue to
diligently deliver on its mandate," John added.
Udecott was the subject of the Uff com-
mission of enquiry, which tabled 91 recom-
mendations. John said 45 of these directly
applied to Udecott and all were implement-
Saying during her initial tenure she led a
major overhaul of all systems and procedures
John said all of Udecott's projects were now
subject to open policy tender.
"Udecott has hired highly qualified and
experienced staff and new departments have
"Udecott has a new tenders committee,
of which I chose not to be a part and for the
very first time in the company's history a
procurement department was established
with a manager and procurement officers
hired," John added.
Also for the first time, she said, the com-
pany had a facilities management department.
To ensure the post of chairman and CEO
were kept separate, John said the office of
the CEO was reintroduced so there was no
conflict of interest and overlap of duties and
also to ensure that transparency was always
"The processes and procedures for the
construction records and document man-
agement and finance departments were
revamped and/or overhauled, including the
introduction of new IT systems and tech-
nologies," John added.
Senior project managers and legal officers
also attended training sessions in April and
May last year.
Outlining some of Udecott's projects over
the last two years, John said those includ-
• Relocating Parliament to Tower D at The
Waterfront Complex, which was done within
time and budget
• Retrofitting the Chancery Lane Admin-
istrative Complex into the new San Fernando
• Starting construction of eight state-of-
the-art police stations
• Embarking on fitting out the government
campus plaza which has a total of 1,363,624
square feet of space.
Moonilal as new board is installed:
No more bacchanal
Members of the newly-appointed Urban Development Corporation (Udecott) board pose for a
photograph after receiving their instruments of appointment at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain,
yesterday. PHOTO:ABRAHAM DIAZ
Udecott to spend
$19b on 74 projects
PM going after
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