Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 7th 2013 Contents A5
Friday, June 7, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
It is a landmark wastage. That is how
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley
described a Cabinet decision to spend mil-
lions of dollars to retrieve a crashed fire
tender last year.
In a statement yesterday, Rowley said
based on published newspaper reports the
Cabinet decision authorising the $6.8 million
payment "does not warrant any inquiry"
as "all inquiries and queries would have
been made by the Cabinet at its first, second
and third attempt before it agreed to this
Rowley added: "What is required now is
an immediate unambiguous and truthful
explanation from the Prime Minister, the
head of the Cabinet, with full responsibility
for the Government s scandalous action."
Yesterday PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar
refused to take questions from the media
after a function at her office in St Clair.
Rowley said citizens "should take no com-
fort in the fact that this is not the action
of a public servant or a rogue State enterprise
outside of the view of the Cabinet. This is
action after extensive deliberations by a
Cabinet that has consistently failed the peo-
ple of Trinidad and Tobago."
He said for quite some time the Oppo-
sition had been pointing out that the Cabinet
was not functioning properly and that there
were persons who were above the laws and
He said the Prime Minister was a facil-
itator of wrongdoing and general inexplicable
conduct of persons in and out of the Cab-
"There could be no better demonstration
of an irresponsible and dysfunctional Cab-
inet than that which is portrayed in this
naked rape of the Treasury with Cabinet
approval," he said.
According to Rowley the Opposition
maintains that the matter on the recovery
of the fire tender at exorbitant cost, while
symptomatic of the Government, "pales
into insignificance when compared to a
similar action which the Opposition has
reported to the Integrity Commission."
He was referring to the purchase of a
development at Calcutta Road, Couva,
which was valued at $45 million and for
which the Cabinet agreed to pay $175 mil-
He said the Opposition was awaiting the
findings of the ongoing investigation of the
Integrity Commission into that and other
outrageous actions directed and facilitated
by members of the Government at great
expense and loss to the long-suffering peo-
ple of T&T.
The Judiciary has sent a stern warning
to president of the Public Service Associ-
ation (PSA) Watson Duke that it will "not
The warning was sent yesterday after
Duke went to the Port-of-Spain High Court
and called staff away from their jobs to
address them inside the building.
He then led the workers outside after the
Judiciary s security intervened. Duke then
led the workers to the court s Finance and
Accounts and Court Human Resources
Management Unit, corner of Duke and Pem-
broke Streets, where he was again asked by
security and court protocol and information
manager Jones P Madeira not to disrupt the
Addressing about 30 employees of the
high and magistrates courts outside the
human resource department Duke said 1,300
employees from the Judiciary were owed
backpay since their last salary adjustment.
Duke advised the workers to "sign the
book and go home." He said he was waiting
for a positive reply by Monday.
He said last December, the PSA and the
Chief Personnel Officer agreed to a four per
cent salary adjustment for all public servants.
"In the month of January we agreed how
the money should be paid and in the month
of February the Minister of Finance issued
a circular, number one of 2013, instructing
all heads of department, all permanent sec-
retaries and chief administrators and civil
authorities that an agreement has been
reached," he said.
Duke said even though the new salaries
were paid in March everyone should receive
the arrears from the adjustment by June 30.
He added: "It is my understanding that
the entire civil service will receive money
except for the Hall of Justice and the Judi-
ciary. It is my understanding the Judiciary
does not care and fail to realise the type of
people who are working in those depart-
"They are civil servants who are working
there. They are mothers, fathers and children
and we have reached the point where we
had enough. We are taking direct action
and we are refusing to work under duress.
"We shall refuse to carry out our normal
duties because we are not treated fairly."
But in a strongly worded statement hours
after the Judiciary, of which Chief Justice
Ivor Archie is head, shot back at Duke saying:
"The Judiciary considers Mr Duke s action
a gross violation of the principles of good
industrial relations and states further that
the institution will not be bullied into dis-
charging its responsibilities to its staff.
"Surely Mr Duke is aware of the channels
of communication within the Judiciary that
are opened to him and the PSA to discuss
any matter relative to his representation of
staff of the institution.
"Utilisation of these channels by the PSA
president before embarking on any extreme
action is the least that would be expected
of a responsible leader."
The statement said Duke "descended on
the institution s offices, proceeded to call
staff away from their jobs and to address
them inside the building."
It said his action resulted in some dis-
ruption of services to stakeholders, partic-
ularly in the registry, but managers quickly
effected contingencies to minimise any
inconvenience to members of the public.
Sittings of the High Courts were not affect-
ed.The Judiciary said it was also concerned
that development followed discussions and
the drafting of correspondence yesterday
indicating to all parties, including Judiciary
staff, the Chief Personnel Officer, the Min-
istry of Finance and the PSA indicating its
inability to make the deadline for the pay-
ments of the arrears by June 30, 2013 and
that the institution was making every effort,
however, to ensure that would be done by
July 31, 2013.
The Judiciary said that correspondence
was scheduled to be dispatched yesterday
but was pre-empted by the actions of the
Duke earlier in the day.
"The delay is as a result of significant
difficulty encountered by the Judiciary in
meeting the June 30, 2013 deadline because
of the refusal of related staff to accept com-
pensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay-
ments for them to work the excess hours
required to complete the computation of
the arrears," the statement said.
It added the Judiciary also apologised to
its staff for any inconvenience that the delay
may have caused.
Rowley on $6.8m wrecking of fire tender
Duke pulls court staff off their jobs
Landmark wastage GAIL ALEXANDER
Despite yesterday's statements by Foreign Affairs
Permanent Secretary Margaret Parillon, former
foreign affairs minister Paula Gopee-Scoon has
defended media reports and maintained that
protocol lapses occurred during the recent state visit
by Chinese President Xi Jingping.
Gopee-Scoon commented after Parillon expressed
regret at what she described as the media's
"contempt" for the "amenities and tact so necessary
in the conduct of international relations."
Gopee-Scoon, who was foreign affairs minister
during the 2009 summits hosted by T&T for the
Americas and Commonwealth leaders, said of the
PS's views: "I think the media has a role to play and
everything that occurred was simply being reported.
Also, the media oftentimes expressed the views of
others and I think in the recent state visit there was
a general view from the public based on their
expectations that there was a mismanagement of
protocol and protocol affairs during the recent visit
by the Chinese delegation."
Saying criticism should be accepted in the spirit in
which it is given, she added: "T&T would like to see
an improvement in the way foreign visits are
Commenting on the recent visit, Gopee-Scoon
said: "We should not let the very diplomatic
assurances offered by the Chinese Ambassador
allow us to lose focus on the fact that our handling
of the state visit was a far cry from what is
expected in the hosting of such a major event as the
reception of one of the world's major military and
She said "the glaring lapses" which occurred
happened just four years after T&T's diplomatic
service rose to the occasion in hosting the Americas
Summit and Commonwealth Heads Conference in
Gopee-Scoon said the Government must shoulder
much of the blame for protocol lapses in the recent
"In fact, the Foreign Affairs Minister maintains
responsibility for oversight of protocol and
ceremonial matters," she added.
She said part of the problem also was that the
Government had not moved quickly to update T&T's
"For example, our protocol listing has no place for
the president of the Caribbean Court of Justice and
the seating arrangements for this significant office
based in T&T is usually inappropriate to the office
and at the whim of whoever is responsible for
handling the protocol at official functions.
"This is clearly unacceptable."
She said the current minister should complete the
updating of the protocol listing "to correct whatever
failures occurred during the course of the most
Gopee-Scoon said Mayor of Port-of-Spain Louis
Lee Sing also complained of being snubbed and of
not being included in the official delegations in the
recent state visit.
"Further, there really is no excuse for the fact that,
on a state visit, there was no opportunity for a
private audience between the Opposition Leader and
the visiting President, which is usually afforded for
such occasions, as was appropriately done with the
office of Speaker," she said.
"No such meeting having been scheduled, and
therefore a gross insult to the Office of the Leader
of the Opposition, it is even more surprising that
government spokesmen would seek to make heavy
weather of a missed invitation to a presidential
Gopee-Scoon said much of the confusion which
arose at the airport reception for the visiting
delegation was caused by the extremely large local
"There was really no need for the delegation to
comprise minor officials of state," she added.
"We can only hope Government is aware that
there still is much work to be done...at all times, and
by both Government and Opposition, our
international image and standing must be
She said a country's foreign policy ought not to be
"unnecessarily tampered with and altered with every
in protocol issue
PSA president Watson Duke, left, leads Hall of Justice workers in a demonstration outside
their office on Pembroke Street, Port-of-Spain yesterday. PHOTO: BRIAN NG FATT
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