Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 19th 2013 Contents A24
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, June 19, 2013
While a full statement is await-
ed on Cabinet s investigation
into the fire truck "fiasco;"
more precisely as the cabal in the Cab-
inet (those who led the chorus to pay
the $6.8 million for retrieval of the
firetruck from the precipice) searches
for plausibility on this outrageous wreck-
ing bill, it remains incredulous that the
Cabinet, the highest executive decision-
making body in the land, could have
succumbed in the manner it is reported
to have done to this shake-down.
There would be those who would
argue that the Cabinet did not suc-
cumb but for whatever the reason
bought into the rationale behind the
payment. But maybe those who
readily agreed to this injudicious
expenditure knew more than the
others who were forced on board the
ship when it set sail.
Even more astonishing is the
attempt by individual cabinet mem-
bers to persuade the national popu-
lation that payment of the bill was
exclusively the responsibility of for-
mer national security minister Jack
Warner; even more unbelievably that
the responsibility lies with the chief
The contours of the spin so far
discerned suggest that the same tac-
tic used in the firing of Herbert Vol-
ney, ie, he misled Cabinet, will be
again applied. Only difference this
time around, Warner has already
left/been fired for another reason;
there will, therefore, be no head on
a silver platter for this obscene pil-
lage of the Treasury.
Collective cabinet responsibility as
fixed in the tradition of Westminster
is based upon the need for ministers
belonging to the Cabinet to fully
discuss policies, programmes and
other matters brought before the
Executive before agreement is arrived
at.Once that discussion is engaged
and a conclusion reached by the
whole, those who had previously
disagreed must fall in line or leave
the Cabinet if the matter continues
to stick in the craw.
It defies 21st-century logic that a
group of ministers, chaired by a
Prime Minister, a brilliant senior
counsel, and one containing another
of the same ilk/silk and several per-
sons of PhD and senior academic
status and experience, could sit and
agree to spend $6.8 million to
retrieve a water tender without ask-
ing and getting logical responses to
basic fundamental questions.
How much would it cost to
replace this tender? What was the
original value of the vehicle? Were
there attempts to seek other bids to
get the job done?
An anonymously-quoted Cabinet
minister is supposed to have said
that they were led to believe that the
water truck cost $50 million; so $6.8
million seemed reasonable. What
director of a company would swal-
low that story without checking?
Remember, this is a water truck, not
one of those fancy appliances with
hoses, ladders and the other accou-
trements needed for fire fighting.
Any board of directors, any cabinet
must perform a role beyond being a
rubber stamp for every project laid
on the table.
If the Cabinet is not the place for
a rigorous discussion on policies, the
expenditure of billions of dollars
before final decisions are taken, then
our system of governance is obsolete,
open to gross inefficiency, corruption
and much more.
Indeed, this Cabinet recently fired
the board of Caribbean Airlines for
inefficient use of the resources of
the airline in circumstances far less
aggravated than this one. Is it that
the Cabinet has a special privilege to
throw away (or worse) the resources
of the country?
Further indictment on the Cabinet
and the process of blind or forced
adherence to whatever comes before
it is the practice that has been
adopted by succeeding cabinets, that
being that policies and programmes
have a second pass before a final
decision is taken.
The logic of the process of having
Cabinet members reflect on the pol-
icy, programme or decision for a
second time suggests that ministers
have time to research, rethink and/or
reflect on the matter before an
eventual decision is made.
That the payment, whether $10m
or $6.8m, was refused a second time
indicates that there were those who
were not persuaded that the job and
firetruck were worth the asking fee.
What reasons did they offer for
refusing the second time? Were
there ministers who had sought-out
and received answers to the logical
questions posed above?
Minister Anil Roberts stated in
Parliament that notwithstanding the
Cabinet s refusal, the job was done
and so left Cabinet with no choice
but to pick up the bill.
Question: What did the strong and
sagacious Prime Minister Kamla Per-
sad-Bissessar do about a minister
who so violated procedure? She
surely fired a few other ministers for
The fact is that in all probability if
there was not this rupture in the
relations between Warner and the
Prime Minister and a few members
of the cabal, information on the
firetruck matter would never have
It seems clear that having found
itself in a serious bind in relation to
Warner s intended candidacy for the
ruling United National Congress in
Chaguanas West, the leak in the
information was sprung to remove
the Warner threat. However, mouth
open and tory jump out.
MOUTH OPEN, TORY JUMP OUT
Taking no chances, this cyclist secures his bicycle to a signpost
on the corner of Independence Square and Chacon Street, Port-
of-Spain. As an economical means of getting around, one
wonders why this mode of transport has not become the
answer to congestion in the city. PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON
THE ANSWER TO TRAFFIC?
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