Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The current Opposition Party, the People's National Movement, needs to understand its new role in our Democracy and get on with the program, or make way for others better suited for the job.
Effective Opposition is a lynchpin in our system of Governance, and the stronger the Opposition the stronger the Government, the better off the people.
The Party needs to shake off the defeat of the last election and re establish itself if it ever wants to be considered as a viable option for Government, but the vociferous ranting and downright silliness being posted by some of its members leads me to ask one question;
Is the Party in denial?
Listening to what is being said one gets the impression that not only does the Party membership NOT accept responsibility for their current position, they seem to be trying to apportion blame for their current circumstances OUTSIDE of the Party.
Nothing could be further from the truth, and I dare say, it is an urgent function of the new Leadership to publicly identify where the Party is, how it comes to find itself where it now is, and to clearly enunciate where it wants to go, so as to rein in its members and hopefully re-gain Public trust along the way.
This is not going to be an easy journey, and now is not the time for silliness nor delusion.
On the campaign trail, 'then' 'outcast' MP Dr. Keith Rowly said categorically that, should the metaphorical 'ship' that is the PNM find itself in dry dock, there would be time for court martial.
'Now' newly appointed Political Leader Dr. Keith Rowley needs to prove that he is a man true to his word and nothing like his predecessor.
The Party he now leads needs to be rebuilt from the ground up and much public house cleaning is required if the electorate is to ever consider his Party an option for governance in the near future.
In this exercise of rebranding and reconstruction, acceptance is a key component to going forward.
The Party HAS to accept responsibility not only for the state of its own affairs, but for the damage done to the nation as a whole by the last PNM government.
The country will accept no less, and any arrogance on the part of the People's National Movement will consign them to the fringes of national life and make a lie of the statement great is the PNM and it shall prevail.
Dr. Rowley, if you ever wanted an opportunity to prove that you are a leader, that time is now.
Your members are in deep denial over the issues that turned the rest of the country away from your Party in shame and disgust, and if the PNM ever wants to see the corridors of power again, you are going to have to convince rank and file Trinidadians that not only does the Party KNOW that the abuses done under Patrick Manning and his band of bandits was wrong on multiple levels, that under your watch and in the 'new' PNM, it could NEVER happen again.
What the people do not want and will not accept are excuses or revisionism.
There will be no rewriting of history to soothe anyone's conscience here.
The people fully expect the entire Party to fall on the proverbial sword for what was done to the national psyche during those tumultuous times when then Prime Minister and Party leader Manning was running amok.
The PNM at all material times had a responsibility to the nation to reign in its rogue leader, and, if there was no machinery in place to so do, NOW is an excellent time to put such machinery in place to assuage fears and guarantee the population that no such abuses can ever occur again on a PNM watch.
Going forward Dr, Rowley, the nation needs to deal with some issues that MUST be ventilated from a PNM perspective if the party is to appear capable of leadership and viable for government, and the people await your position on these issues:
Gary Hunt's two million dollar flag - this is probably the smallest sum misappropriated under the last PNM administration and was a visible embodiment of the arrogance of the then Prime Minister and his cabal and contempt for the people of this country. In the face of a public outcry against what was seen by rank and file Trinidadians as brazen daylight robbery, this arrogant stance was compounded by the position taken by the then Minister of Works that the flag he erected was a symbol of 'National Pride' and we were not entitled to question how he provided said symbol.
Calder Hart - Protestations against the UFF report are just that, protestations. There are systems in place to deal with issues such as these, and these systems should be allowed to work. The rumor mill paints a frightening picture, of billions of dollars of the people's money being stolen through different schemes and mechanisms by this man and his minions, and not only would the people like to see the offenders jailed for their misuse of the Public Trust, they would like to have the money returned.
Patrick Manning's Church - Another blaring symbol of arrogance, this issue undermined both the Office of The Prime Minister and the people's view on religion. No one in their right minds would challenge the people to decide between religion and corrupt enrichment by abuse, and this is exactly what took place here.
In an almost cult like atmosphere of secrecy and misdirection, the Project Manager - Prime Minister Patrick Manning demonstrated a contempt for the democratic principles that defined his Office.
The Prime Minister's Palace - Never to be seen again as the refuge of the holder of the highest Office in the land, the home of our elected Kings was transformed into a palace befitting an Emperor.
Almost confirming the people's suspicions that he had dictatorial intentions, the then Prime Minister flouted convention and tradition in his rush to personal aggrandizement.
Billion Dollar Cocktail Parties - The treasure of the nation was used to hoist this new World Leader on the Global stage and to create a platform for waste and corruption not seen before or since.
We may never know how much of the nation's wealth was wasted and stolen for these two meaningless charades, but the benefits to this nation will never live up to its cost, both in real dollars and in the breakdown of confidence in the system.
The Smelter Project - The United States is four thousand times bigger than Trinidad with tracts of empty land ten times the size of Trinidad and they STILL didn't want that project in their backyard, and the people rightly asked why should we want it in ours?
The science of the thing could not and cannot be 'politicked' away, regardless of how many jobs might be created.
The long term consequences to the environment and the citizenry outstrip and outweigh any short term benefits and this has been proven definitively.
This issue cuts across Party lines and strikes at the heart of the core Government function, that of protecting the people. Canceling this unpopular idea will contribute significantly to the preservation of our environment, and should be considered a dead issue.
The Rapid Rail - Seen for what it is, this slick 'Con Job' of epic proportions that was almost played on the people was one of the casualties of the election and the people are all richer for it.
There is no tangible benefit to the nation or the people, real or imagined, by this testimony to greed and graft and the issue should be closed forever.
That it is still being peddled within the Party demonstrates that the Party has a lot of work to do if it is to convince its own membership that the PNM is not a den of thieves, a path to personal enrichment at the expense of the people or a corrupt institution if it ever hopes to regain the national trust.
These are not the only abuses committed under Patrick Manning and is not intended to be a definitive list.
They are highlighted here as glaring examples and are used in this instant to remind the members of the People's National Movement of the mountain they still have to climb and what needs mending in the ship while in dry dock.
The Westminster Definition:
'The Official Opposition is viewed as the caucus tasked with keeping the government in check.
It is also generally viewed as the alternative government or "government in waiting".
The Official Opposition maintains a shadow cabinet of Members of Parliament (MPs) that should have the same portfolios as actual ministers.
It is styled after "Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition" to show that, although the group may be against the sitting government, it remains loyal to the Crown (under our Republican constitution; the Head of State), and thus to the unified state of Trinidad & Tobago'.
The PNM has much work to do if it is to live up to those lofty ideals, and if it intends to prevail, that work has to begin now.
Something to think about....
Posted by Phillip Edward Alexander at 7:39 AM
Monday, June 28, 2010
Sarcasm is one of the few tools left when intelligent people allow their intelligence to be subjugated by the media for propaganda purposes, and one that I employ liberally.
The New Politics of the day is making me cynically sarcastic and I am tired of seeing good, kind hearted people who have a genuine love of country being taken advantage of for camera shots and sound bytes.
This National Clean Up is the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.
Look, as worthwhile an effort as this National Clean Up is, I fear it is nothing short of playacting and misdirection by a Government long on promises but short on any real plan for running the country.
In case anyone has forgotten, the country's major issues are (and ostensibly why we changed governments) crime, traffic and corruption, and National Clean Up is not going to make a dent in any of these.
Obviously being used as a metaphor for decay under the past administration, this Campaign is nothing new and we're getting a little tired of this same script now; what the last administration did wrong, what the new administration will do right.
Please, enough with the campaigning already.
Is it that this Government, so long in Opposition, is having difficulty moving from opposing to governing?
Where is the news media in all of this? Why are they (the News Media) avoiding asking the hard questions or tackling the real issues instead of regurgitating this drivel?
Why the 'Dr. Feel Good' reporting?
Is this based on something that 'we the people' are too stupid to know? or has the local news media business become more about business and less about news?
There are serious questions being asked to and about the present Government by rank and file Trinidadians and the people must have answers to those questions.
- Like the Warner issue.
Exactly how much control of this government did Mr. Warner's campaign money buy?
Mr. Warner's claims that he was 'instructed' by the Prime Minister to do this or 'instructed' to do that is fooling no one outside of the cult that the 'coalition' is trying to become, and again I have to say it, methinks he doth protest too much.
What is Mr. Warner's 'real' role in this Government, and what is preventing him from being discarded for breeching the Parliamentary Code of Ethics?
Is wrong under the PNM different from wrong under the UNC?
What is Winston Dookeran's position on Mr. Warner's appointment and the flouting of the Parliamentary Code of Ethics?
What is the Congress of the People's position on this issue?
Does Mr. Dookeran share Makandal Daaga's views that the rules need to be changed so as to accomodate Mr. Warner?
Has Mr. Dookeran abandoned his position on integrity and morality in Public Affairs?
And, if so, does Mr. Dookeran still speak for the Congress of the People?
- The Deficit issue.
If we are indeed operating on an 800 million shortfall per year in real income over expenses, what measures are being considered for the shortfall?
Is the Government willing to forgo frivolous campaign promises in order to close the gap?
Is the Government, in keeping a campaign promise to remove Property Tax, considering an end run around the problem of the deficit by raising Value Added Tax to twenty per cent, and if so, does this fly in the face of the 'No New Tax' campaign stand?
- The Financial Sector issue
Former Central Bank Governor and current Minister of Finance WInston Dookeran, in toeing the Party line (where embarrassing the last administration is concerned) is playing his part to the hilt; so much so that he is running afoul of the Central Bank Governor who has had to repeatedly contradict the Minister's position on National Finance issues and risks making him (Dookeran) appear foolish and ill informed.
On the heels of another insurance company's failure and public skepticism over Unit Trust, we cannot have an ill informed Minister of Finance making life altering decisions.
- The Crime Issue
Three Legal Affairs Ministries and multiple Ministers of National Security (some with title, some just with posts and positions), and still eight murders in three days.
Where is the much touted Anti-Crime Plan?
- The Galbaransingh/Ferguson Extradition issue
This Government's position on crime is 'Do the Crime then Do the Time', regardless of race, religion, class or political affiliation.
Anything other than a firm stance on the extradition of the two (former) UNC financiers indicted in the US for crimes committed during the last UNC administration and whose 'accomplices in crime' have confessed to the corruption and are already doing time would be a reversal of that position and would make this Government's position on Law & Order a joke.
These are some of the issues that need asking and answering by the media and the Government and should take precedence over what now obtains as the 'Top Story'.
We are well into the 120 days, during which time we were supposed to have referendum and recall legislation laid in Parliament, as well as draft legislation for term limits for Prime Ministers.
Why the delay in delivering the promised Pillars of Governance?
This Prime Minister needs to decide what exactly her Government is about, what she's for and against, and make those facts known more by her actions and less by her words.
She needs to decide if her legacy is worth the stink beginning to emanate from her Cabinet over the Warner issue and the Extradition issue.
Now is not the time for diddling with side issues, the country needs firm decisive leadership and some measure of integrity and honesty in Public Affairs, especially so close on the heels of the Manning PNM and its memory.
We the people voted the last government out of office before its term was up and the present government would do well to remember that.
Without us, all this current UNC administration would have had was a replay of Warner and Panday's Orange Revolution.
Something to think about...
Posted by Phillip Edward Alexander at 4:07 AM
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
There is a saying, 'mud thrown is ground lost'.
I think it's clear what the writer is trying to say, but the broader perspective tends to get lost amid the obvious.
Opposition Leader Dr. Keith Rowley, in his role as 'Corruption Buster', is seeking to have the Parliamentary Code of Ethics enforced (and rightly so), while Jack Warner, paragon of virtue that he is, is trying to rationalize breaking those rules so as to accommodate him being both a Cabinet Minister and a FIFA vice president.
Trying to justify his position, he (Warner) is muscling his opinion through small talk and 'grand charge'.
Sprinkling pixie dust to distract and using smoke and mirrors to deflect clear judgement on what is a clear cut issue to even the most die hard UNC supporters, he has thrown everyone and everything up in defense and has even stooped to using Makandal Daaga as token mouthpiece extraordinaire to question the reason for the rules in the first place.
This must not be allowed to wash.
The Code of Ethics that was laid in Parliament and approved in 1988 is explicit in that it says ’6a) Ministers shall resign directorships in all companies, b) they shall cease to engage in professional practice; and c) they shall cease to be involved in the daily routine work of any business.’
Ironically, Article 6 of FIFA’s code of conduct requires officials to remain ’politically neutral’.
Does Kamla Persad Bissessar fully understand that, by standing by her man, she is risking lowering her own ethical standards in the public eye on this issue?
It should be clear to all and sundry that the Code of Ethics [adopted for the conduct of Parliament and its members] was drafted in the best interest of the country, and, the fact that it has been the rule book all Parliamentarians have played by for the past twenty two years is a testament to its validity in this instant.
We need a Code of Ethics because there are people devoid of integrity who will do anything to further their personal agendas at the expense of the people, and, in that nefarious pursuit, brings shame and dishonor to the highest institutions in our land.
We need to be vigilant against these onslaughts against our democracy. They should never be allowed to prosper, or we may well rue the day we opted for exchange.
Posted by Phillip Edward Alexander at 9:37 PM
Sunday, June 20, 2010
There are some very strange maneuvers taking place within the corridors of power that is prompting some serious questions as to the goings on in the People's Partnership hierarchy.
Is there a plan to sideline the Congress of the People now that victory at the polls has been attained?
From all appearances it would seem so.
Why was Garvin Nicholas given a plum Ministerial portfolio (one he is ill qualified to handle I must say) and Nicole Dyer and Rocky Garcia, who did much more for the coalition than Nicholas could ever do were slighted?
Is it because Garvin fought the elections in a UNC shirt? Was the equality of members of the coalition just a ruse?
Where is Wendy Lee Yuen, who single handedly kept the needs of farmers, the agri-sector and the environment on the front burner of National issues?
Why is Winston Dookeran not the Deputy Prime Minister, and given that title in his portfolio?
Nicole Dyer has made the Diego Martin Central 'safe seat' a marginal and contestable seat for the very near future by effort alone, why is she not in a Youth Ministry or some other appointment as a reward for her efforts and as an encouragement to others to join up, as was the case with David Abdullah?
Jack Warner, talking his usual 'bag of ass', actually berated Rocky for not beating Dr. Rowley (used him actually to deflect pressure off himself [Warner] and questions as to his own [Warner's] credibility to hold High Office).
If there was ever a PNM safe seat it was Dr. Keith Rowley in Diego Martin West, and Rocky's performance at the polls was unprecedented.
He (Rocky) is building political respectability among the middle class and would have won in a less hotly contested constituency (say Diego Martin East).
Why did the massive 'Congratulations' banner at the People's Partnership thank you gala have to say 'brought to you by the UNC?'
Maybe there is a message there for the COP members.
What's my rant about?
Without the Congress of the People, the People's Partnership was doomed to fail and they have not been sufficiently recognized nor rewarded for that fact.
The Congress of the People brought something intangible but essential to the partnership, a political capital without which the PNM would be in power today.
What exactly did they bring?
They brought victory at the polls in a heady mix of respectability, credibility, trustworthiness, cross party appeal, religious tolerance, hope and middle class acceptance, without which, any UNC challenge was dead in the water.
Make no mistake about it, without that sheen of 'New Politics' provided by the COP, the UNC was going to fail at the polls because (and the historical record bears this out) the party was polling less numbers than even madman Manning's PNM on their own.
-Because the UNC lacked credibility to hold office and their last stint ended in a fiasco with scores of its members on varying charges or before the Courts.
-The UNC was not respected or trusted outside of the sugar belt, and rank and file Trinidadians had serious misgivings with Jack Warner and anything he was involved in.
-While the MSJ was 'possibly' bringing the labor vote, mainstream Trinidadians were hard-pressed to choose between the devil that was the PNM and the deep blue sea that was the UNC under Jack Warner.
-Without the credibility gloss applied to the Partnership, the TOP had no hope of convincing average Tobagonians to support the UNC. After having been dealt with so flippantly and arrogantly by the last UNC administration, Tobagonians remembered both of their Senators being fired for not voting with the then administration's schemes (which incidentally went on to bring the UNC Government down in flames).
-Non committed voters and the middle class would have had no reason to join the fray, and this election would have had an even lower voter turn out than the last one.
That the Congress of the People needs to emerge from the shadows of the UNC and establish themselves as equal partners in Governance is important to the future viability of the coalition, if the People's Partnership is not just a fancy name to a hollow promise set up to take advantage of the voters once again.
Something to think about...
Posted by Phillip Edward Alexander at 6:58 AM
Friday, June 18, 2010
...And now it was evening time, and all the townsfolk, together with the people of the Peanut Forest, gathered in the town square, spent and tired, but relieved; for they had triumphed over the Dark Knight.
With the light from many torches burning, our heroine stands in the flickering glow in the center of the square, bruised and covered in the Dark Knight's blood, knowing it was over and yet only just beginning; the people were there for her, they needed her and she trembled inside at the enormous responsibility. Overwhelmed, she dropped to her knees, how would she take care of them? She knew in her heart she needed help, his help.
Help from the one man that helped her vanquish the Dark Knight.
She knew she had to convince him to stay. But how could she?
And now we see the White Knight, having travelled for many years and many miles to defeat the Dark Knight, about to be on his way.
He was a selfless champion of the people, and he waged this battle, not for spoils, no, that was for the townspeople, and to give land to the people of the Peanut Forest; he fought because it was his destiny.
And so here he stood at the edge of town, about to ride off into the sunset (with people asking under their breath "who was that kind, selfless man?") When she rises and runs after him, stumbling, hair blowing in the wind, screaming at the top of her lungs, tears streaming down her face "'Jack! Jack! Don't leave, we need you!" and the people gasped as one, as he stopped and took her in his arms and said gently "All right, I'll stay, only if you want me to." to which she sobbingly replied, burying her face in his strong shoulders "Never leave! Promise me Jack! Promise me you'll never leave!" and, as he quietly stroked her hair, whispers "I Promise"...
AND ...... CUT!
CUE DRAMATIC MUSIC
On the day Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar announced her Cabinet, and in a scene straight out of a Spaghetti Western, she went to great lengths to describe how Jack Warner had to be convinced to take up a Ministerial role.
Watching this, i was reminded of Queen Gertrude's response to Prince Hamlet's questions about the central character's response in the play - "The lady doth protest too much, methinks".
Didn't she though?
Why was this our business? Our concern? To make us feel 'doubly' indebted to this kind, selfless man? Or to continue the work of the spin doctors in rebranding this cutthroat, 'yuh mudder!, ask yuh mudder!' kind of man?
How do we justify putting the sword to the Code of Ethics that was created for moments like this?
Let's put a pin in this for a moment....
On the afternoon he was sworn in as Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Keith Rowley asked a simple question, a nothing question really if you believe the 'Talking Heads' line, yet a question that sent a rumble through the ruling Party and shock waves through the nation, and set the agenda for all the players of substance, on or off stage.
Why so much ado about nothing?
The Spin Doctors went to work immediately, pulling rank and file to belittle and 'steups' at the question, but it became the 'steups' heard round the world.
Our newly sworn in Attorney General, a legal luminary in his own right and a decisive man of action was reduced to looking for back up instead of relying on his own interpretation of the Code.
His judgement alone was all that was needed to decide it, and everything we would have needed and would have relied on if this was indeed a nothing issue. Why seek such esteemed opinions on such a trivial matter?
This 'nothing' question has become the central issue of the entire population, and has split the country down Party lines, racial lines, and ethical lines; most people are not even sure what the question is, so it is being reduced to if you trust Jack Warner or you don't.
This brings me to another issue. Was the Prime Minister being less than honest with the population about the 'arm twisting' required to get him to join the Cabinet?
If he never wanted the position, why is he fighting so hard to hold on to it? Why is National Treasure being spent on this? Is no one else in the ENTIRE People's Partnership capable of handling the Ministry of Works?
Was this scenario true, and if it isn't I have to ask the Prime Minister again, what is?
What did Dr. Rowley really do here?
In my humble opinion, I believe Dr. Rowley opened a sore that stinks on many levels, and one that will not easily go away.
It stinks on the ground.
Among the electorate there is a level of distrust for Jack Warner that was only allowed to pass because we had bigger fish to fry, the then Prime Minister and thorn in the National backside, Patrick Mervyn Augustus Prevatee Dhanrajsing Imelda Aboud Manning.
An entire election was fought to rid everyone of this 'Soucouyant' and we accomplished the objective, all hands on deck, easy peasy.
Now the dust has settled, and the people have to look at what they really got in exchange, and Warner and everything that he represents now, for the future, and especially in the past, is starting to stink.
It stinks in the People's Partnership.
Regardless of efforts to pretend otherwise or to rewrite history, most of his Party colleagues sleep with one eye open when Warner is around.
Suruj Rambachan and Winston Dookeran to name a few, have both gone on record admitting to having questions and serious reservations about the individual. Stephen Cadiz is a man of serious integrity and ethical capital, and I await with baited breath his take on all of this.
It stinks in the Cabinet.
It is my belief that all the posturing, endorsing, hiding and buck passing was everyone's way of hoping that someone else would find a way to say it can't work, and so let the Promise Keepers off the hook.
No such luck.
Give Jack's PR man his jacket; whoever it is, the man working overtime deflecting, dodging, rebranding, repositioning, reinventing, sweating his proverbial tail off, trying to get people to see Warner 2010, the new construct, instead of focusing on what he is known, believed, alleged, reputed to be, internationally.
It stinks internationally.
The World is watching this. FIFA is alleged and believed to be one of the most corrupt organizations in the world, with allegations from all corners of the globe. There is talk of the US Football Federation having serious issues with certain individuals in CONCACAF and this masquerade of FIFA as a paragon of virtue is not washing with anybody; the Americans are paying close attention to what obtains next.
Look, if it is taking this much effort, this much talk to put this man in this post, shouldn't we, as a nation, get to weigh in on it now?
What a wonderful opportunity to fulfill a campaign promise, that divisive issues will be decided by referendum.
GIve the people a say. Let the people decide. Put the issue out to referendum, and, depending on the result, let that settle it.
Our Prime Minister's press conference on the heels of the 'Ruling' opened more cans of worms than it settled as she flailed around looking for justifications, talking sillyness about what is carved in stone, and new millennium piffle.
If she is the REAL Leader of the country she should know that ALL Cabinet and Ministerial appointments are hers and hers alone to give an take as is her fancy, and she could have put an end to the entire discussion by simply saying "In my capacity as Prime Minister, and based on the legal advice I have received, I stand by my appointment of Jack Warner as Minister of Works".
End of discussion.
Why all the extraneous mumbo jumbo?
There has to be a lot more in this particular mortar, and I feel this central issue is the beginning of the break up of the People's Partnership and the destruction of this Government.
In this one move the People's Partnership has ceded the moral high ground to the new PNM and invested the ethical capital of the country in Dr. Keith Rowley, the new corruption buster of Trinidad & Tobago.
Stay tuned, I think we're in for a bumpy ride.
Posted by Phillip Edward Alexander at 5:38 AM
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Since the defeat at the hands of the electorate, Colm Imbert has been walking around with a dazed look of bewilderment on his face. Shocked to find himself the villain in this piece, he does not understand how he became one of the most despised people in the country.
Being a person of selflessness by nature, I thought i would be the good Samaritan and stop and explain it to him.
Nobody likes you Colm, because not only did you lie when you had the chance to tell the truth to the country, you 'damn lie', and that's a lot worse.
Because you used your People Appointed position to wage war on the very people by conspiring to deceive and conniving against them.
You went to great lengths to harangue and harass anyone that questioned or challenged your maniac leader and his band of sycophant parasites sucking the life out of our country, in a cabal where you were self appointed heir to the deceitful throne.
Your 'parry and thrust' Letters in the papers were so frequent I fully expected you to end up with your very own column.
That people don't stop you in the street after the elections and spit on you for your lowness and deceitfulness is a testimony to the strength of character of the people of Trinidad & Tobago, and for that you should be grateful.
When Dr. keith Rowley had to 'mash up de place' to expose Calder Hart for all to see, you, who as Minister of Works OUGHT to have known what was going on in UDECOTT, you feigned ignorance, your famous quote "I Know Not The Man" rang so hollow, I waited for a cock to crow three times.
That it didn't had to be Heaven's way of distancing itself from you and your pretend piety.
You knew or had to know or ought to have known at all material times what was taking place under your watch as PM (Project Manager, Prime Minister, Patrick Manning's) closest Minister, Chief Whip and confidant, what was being done to the people by this 'Prime Minister Gone Wild' running amok with the country's future.
What did you do when handed opportunity after opportunity to save the nation, to do the honorable thing and throw yourself into harm's way to save the people?
And for that we will never forgive you, nor will we ever forget.
Move on little man, and I'm not just talking about your vertical challenge here, move on; exit stage left, stage right, anywhere you please, but do us all a favor and just go.
Austin Jack Warner is testing to see how far the people are willing to let him go with this slight of hand show he has been running since Kamla won the internal elections of the UNC.
The twists and turns that this man has been willing to make or has already made to get himself into a position of power in the Government and his hands on the Ministry of Works has mesmerized me; it was almost like watching a special effects movie.
Willing to throw anything and anybody at it to fulfill the requirements of appearences, Jack could not even get twenty paid supporters to the airport for his 'Hero's Arrival' yesterday.
It's because of trust, Jack. We don't trust you. Apparently nobody does.
Fine, I am sure the people who depend on your largesse or other life support will say otherwise, but we are not talking about people who have to be creative with the truth. We are talking about everybody else. Internationally.
Why all the lying and 'smartman' behavior to get into this 'appointment?'
Why the pretend games trying to rewrite history of where you are, where you trying to go, and more importantly, who you are?
Why all the charades and shenanigans?
Is it that at some point, like a child stealing cookies, you are expecting to be found out and exposed for who you really are?
You underestimate the ambitions of the small men around you, who, in your orbit, are willing to push you if you pull them. Look around, not one of them needs be honest with the public because they're lying to themselves. Your cohorts and co-conspirators will parrot the 'gobar' that your money has bought and paid for you, but don't be fooled.
The electorate is not only watching you, they're watching all of you, especially the ones that are facilitating this new assault on our Parliament.
The substantive issue here is, Mr. Warner, we do not trust you, and we do not want you to have access to our treasury because we don't trust you.
Thanks for helping us remove Patrick Manning, your money was needed to effect it.
Now, if you really care about this country like you say you do, do us all a favor.
Hit the Road Jack (and don't you come back no more).
Mikandal Daaga, I need to ask you one question here.
Are you really willing to squander this second chance at respectability talking drivel to defend the indefensible at the people's expense?
Challenging the necessity of a Code of Ethics?
Your entire role in this thing is to sit up, shut up, and do your best to appear intelligent.
If you are saying what you are saying because you do not know better, that its because of people like Warner we need a code of ethics in the first place, then you are not qualified to hold Office.
If you in fact DO know better and are engaging in subterfuge to assist in furthering another's nefarious agenda, you are, in fact, telling a lie.
Die hard party supporters, regardless of which party you support, you have made a mess and a mockery of our electoral system.
Because you are dishonest.
Your unwillingness to have anything like an independent thought makes you contemptible and an enemy to real progress.
People like you are the reason every single abuser in high Office has been able to perpetuate that abuse. People like you made Ish and Brian and Steve happen, made Calder and Gary happen, and are about to make Carlos and Jack happen.
Because of you and people like you, who lie to further your objectives by pushing fraudulent agendas, the weak and the innocent become grist for the mill as these parasites and vampires you line up behind and promote with gusto and enthusiasm drain the blood of the future and squander any chance of the poor and dispossessed in our society having a decent life; these are the ones you and your 'people' come to rob. The ones who could least afford it.
If you are in support of something or someone that you KNOW to be untrue or misleading, yet you endorse and support it for whatever reason, you are a liar, and a fraud, a willing conspirator and a traitor to the country.
Will the real Media please stand up?
Your abdication of journalistic principles is tantamount to conspiring against the people of Trinidad & Tobago.
Anytime you refuse to pursue and publish the truth, you are telling a lie.
Posted by Phillip Edward Alexander at 6:53 AM
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The Prime Minister has accepted the Unified Trade Union Movement's invitation to walk with them on Labour Day.
As Utopian as this momentous event may appear, it sends the wrong message to the entire National Community and sets everyone up for disagreement, confusion and disappointment down the road.
Because in these circumstances, if both of them agree, one of them is unnecessary.
The Trade Union's ONLY reason for existence is to fight Management (in this case the Government of Trinidad & Tobago), for higher wages and better working conditions for workers.
On the flip-side, The Government (through its appointed Board) is bound to its shareholders (read here the People of Trinidad & Tobago) to deliver the largest profit possible to pay dividends (in this case to the Consolidated Fund of the Treasury), and to put aside resources for a rainy day, as in the Stabilization Fund (a mechanism set up to insulate the domestic economy from fluctuations in price and other negative impacts on the Petrochemical Industry) by whatever means necessary, morally ethical and legal.
This is basic economics and it should not have to be spelled out here, but it appears that we are on some crazy head trip now that Manning is no longer in power and all the old rules no longer apply. You cant break down every wall without consequence, some walls serve a purpose.
From sugar to cocoa to oil and gas, from colony and slavery, to freedom and independence, this country has always been a labor intensive business. The Government, in its role as Management, has to also be mindful of its role as steward of the economy.
Forget the profitability of the State owned businesses for a while, any move up the salary scale in the Public sector will cause a similar response in the Private Sector.
Private Companies will see an immediate response in their wage bill (if they are to retain their labor force), which in turn will raise production costs, spur inflation in the short term, and reduce any competitive advantage we now enjoy to the detriment of the economy as a whole through the downsizing of Private Sector Industry, loss of jobs and economic contraction.
This is where the love ends.
After you marginalize the Unions, what happens when we no longer agree? What new mechanism will represent the people when they disagree with the Government?
In her bid to be the All Inclusive Prime Minister, Mrs. Bissessar is squandering her moment in history. This country does not need a friend, it needs a leader.
How far are we prepared to go with this?
If the People's Partnership is the new Zenith of our politics, then I suggest we get the PNM to join up as well, close down Parliament and decide everything within the confines of the Cabinet.
That this sort of politics takes the power away from the people and concentrates it in the hands of the few should be obvious, but the obvious is never seen by us when we are on the way to becoming our own enemy.
Something to think about....
Posted by Phillip Edward Alexander at 7:19 AM
Sunday, June 13, 2010
It would appear that the greatest legacy of the last Administration is that the arrogance of its leader and his cabal has so tainted the holders of High Office, that anything other than him and them is better, regardless of what that anything is.
There is now a disconnect in the politics between what people believe and what they accept as policy; a dumbing down as it were, and this is being translated into what they allow to occur, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
By itself a sad state, the real tragedy is, while they aspire for loftier heights at election time, this 'settling' for low aspirations once in office is reducing the size of the moral high ground to what can be proven and who can be charged.
What's my rant about?
We've lost that loving feeling.
Public opinion of High Office and Office holders are at an all time low, with elections being decided on the basis of who we're voting out more than who we're voting in; that in itself is an indictment on how this country views itself morally and something that needs to be addressed with some urgency. Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars spent at election time, most of us flinch while voting, hoping for the best while expecting the worst.
An example of note is that the Government was running without an Integrity Commission in place to watchdog the behavior of officials in public office; the popular opinion on the street at the time was that His Excellency could not appoint one because he could not find enough people of Integrity, and to us that sounded about right.
Really? Have we really sunk THAT low?
I have been told that when you have to 'rationalize' a thing, you have to tell yourself 'rational lies' and that absolutely applies here.
Politics on the ground is as much gang warfare as it theatre, and once you pick a side, you defend what that side does no matter what, as long as it keeps your side in office.
Shrewd politicians on both sides, mindful of this 'us against them' strategy, are keen to fan the flames by smearing characters and sullying reputations into disrepute.
At some point we have to put the theatrics aside and get down to the work of Governance, and we must not allow ourselves to be distracted from the business that has to be done, if we ever hope to put things right for our loved ones and the future. If New Politics is ever to exist, its time is now.
That said, one of the most pressing issues facing this new Administration is the appointment of Jack Warner to the Cabinet.
The brewing furor on both sides on the heels of the Leader of the Opposition questioning that appointment before the Integrity Commission must be answered and answered definitively. The people need to know where right and wrong is on this vague and divisive issue, and not only on this matter but in how this Government plans to treat with issues such as these in the future.
The other burning issue is the pending extradition of Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson to answer corruption charges in the US and their subsequent appeal to the Attorney General.
How the Government handles that particular thorn, in light of the fact that the defendants themselves are known supporters and financiers of the Party, will go a long way in galvanizing public trust as they embark on prosecuting Calder Hart and others from the last regime, alleged to be guilty of corruption and other high crimes while in office.
Where the rubber meets the road is this; these particular issues must be dealt with equitably, decisively, and in as bipartisan a manner as possible if public confidence in Office Holders is to be restored.
As in all matters, and as Lord Hewart has so eloquently said “… it is not merely of some importance but is of fundamental importance, that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.”
Something to think about...
Posted by Phillip Edward Alexander at 8:25 AM
Friday, June 11, 2010
Things that go Bump in the Cabinet, or (Truths, Half Truths, Quarter Truths, Little Pieces of Truth, Tiny Drops of Truth..)
Not fifteen minutes after his swearing in, Dr. Keith Rowley, in his post as Leader of the Opposition, in his capacity as Chief Provocateur, and in his own inimitable style has cut through two hundred and fifty million dollars worth of good Public Relations with one question.
Can Jack Warner LEGALLY hold the post of Government Minister while beholding to FIFA for his supper?
The Integrity Commission believes he can't, while the Government seems to think he can. Now, this is bound to generate a flurry of legal maneuvers and opinions, but to me it begs another, even more important question:
Did Dr. Rowley's challenge expose a lie?
Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar, on announcing the appointments to Cabinet, went to great lengths to emphasize the 'convincing' required to get Gentleman Jack to accept a Cabinet position in the Government he financed into office, so, if the Integrity Commission is saying there exists conflict, why is it so difficult for him to just walk away?
Who had to do all the convincing? Is that person telling the truth? Is Jack really an unwilling participant in all this?
The Prime Minister has at her disposal other capable and well able people (Carlos John, Sadiq Baksh to name a few) to man the cash register (read here Ministry of Works and Transportation of Trinidad & Tobago), so why not just 'untwist' his arm and let him go?
If Jack does not walk away from either FIFA or Cabinet, Dr. Rowley is not going to let this go. By the time we run out of lawyers and talk shows and opinions, we might just have pulled the whole thing down on top of us.
Personally, I don't think you should be allowed to break the rules at the place where we make the rules.
The following is included for your own information:
INTEGRITY IN PUBLIC LIFE ACT
An Act to provide for the establishment of the Integrity Commission; to make new provisions for the prevention of corruption of persons in public life by providing for public disclosure; to regulate the conduct of persons exercising public functions; to preserve and promote the integrity of public officials and institutions, and for matters incidental thereto.
[6th November 2000]
Whereas it is enacted inter alia by subsection (1) of section 13 of the Constitution that an Act of Parliament to which that section applies may expressly declare that it shall have effect even though inconsistent with sections 4 and 5 of the Constitution and, if any Act does so declare, it shall have effect accordingly:
And whereas it is provided by subsection (2) of the said section 13 of the Constitution that an Act of Parliament to which that section applies is one the Bill for which has been passed by both Houses of Parliament and at the final vote thereon in each House has been supported by the votes of not less than three-fifths of all the members of that House:
And whereas it is necessary and expedient that the provisions of this Act shall have effect even though inconsistent with sections 4 and 5 of the Constitution.
1. (1) This Act may be cited as the Integrity in Public Life Act.
(2) This Act shall have effect even though inconsistent with sections 4 and 5 of the Constitution.
2. In this Act—
“assets” means all property, including money, beneficially held in Trinidad and Tobago or elsewhere and all rights and benefits enjoyed on a continuing basis;
“Commission” means the Integrity Commission established under section 4;
“chairman” means the Chairman of the Commission;
“dependent child” means the child of a person, including a child of the family, step-child or adopted child, whether of full age or not, who is unmarried and being maintained by such person;
“income” means all income, from whatever source derived acquired in or out of Trinidad and Tobago, whether directly or indirectly, as money or money’s worth and includes all receipts by way of salary, fees, wages, perquisites, profits, gains, emoluments, rents, interest, commissions, bonus, pension, annuity or benefit and all income within the meaning of the Income Tax Act;
“investigating officer” means a person authorised by the Commission to exercise the powers of an investigating officer under this Act;
“liability” includes any obligation to pay or transfer money or money’s worth in Trinidad and Tobago or elsewhere;
“person in public life” means a person referred to or listed in the Schedule;
“persons exercising public functions” includes all persons holding office under the Public Service, Judicial and Legal Service, Police Service, Teaching Service and Statutory Authorities’ Service Commission, as well as members of the Diplomatic Service and Advisers to the Government;
“public body” includes local and public authorities of all descriptions;
“public officer”’ has the meaning ascribed to it in section 3 of the Constitution;
“spouse” in relation to a person in public life means a person to whom the person in public life is married or living with in a conjugal relationship outside of marriage, but does not include a person with whom the person in public life has made a separation agreement, or if their support obligations and family property have been dealt with by a Court order;
“tribunal” means a tribunal established under section 15.
3. This Act applies to every person in public life and to persons exercising public functions.
Establishment, Powers and Functions of Integrity Commission
4. (1) There is established an Integrity Commission consisting of a Chairman, Deputy Chairman and three other members who shall be persons of integrity and high standing.
(2) At least one member of the Commission shall be an Attorney-at-law of at least ten years experience.
(3) At least one member of the Commission shall be a chartered or certified accountant.
(4) The Chairman and other members of the Commission shall be appointed by the President after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.
(5) A person shall not be qualified to hold office as a member of the Commission where he is a person in public life or a person exercising a public function or a person who is not a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago.
(6) Three members of the Commission of whom one shall be the Chairman or Deputy Chairman, shall constitute a quorum.
5. (1) The Commission shall—
(a) carry out those functions and exercise the powers specified in this Act;
(b) receive, examine and retain all declarations filed with it under this Act;
(c) make such enquiries as it considers necessary in order to verify or determine the accuracy of a declaration filed under this Act;
(d) compile and maintain a Register of Interests;
(e) receive and investigate complaints regarding any alleged breaches of this Act or the commission or any suspected offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act;
(f) investigate the conduct of any person falling under the purview of the Commission which, in the opinion of the Commission, may be considered dishonest or conducive to corruption;
(g) examine the practices and procedures of public bodies, in order to facilitate the discovery of corrupt practices;
(h) instruct, advise and assist the heads of public bodies of changes in practices or procedures which may be necessary to reduce the occurrence of corrupt practices;
(i) carry out programs of public education intended to foster an understanding of standard of integrity; and
(j) perform such other functions and exercise such powers as are required by this Act.
(2) In the exercise of its powers and performance of its functions under this Act, the Commission—
(a) shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority;
(b) may in all cases where it considers it appropriate to do so, make use of the services or draw upon the expertise of any law enforcement agency or the Public Service; and
(c) shall have the power to authorise investigations, summon witnesses, require the production of any reports, documents, other relevant information, and to do all such things as it considers necessary or expedient for the purpose of carrying out its functions.
6. (1) A member of the Commission may at any time resign his office by instrument in writing addressed to the Chairman who shall forthwith cause it to be forwarded to the President; and the Chairman may resign his office by instrument in writing addressed to the President.
(2) A person shall cease to be a member of the Commission from the date of the receipt of the instrument by the President.
7. (1) There shall be a Registrar to the Commission who shall be a public officer.
(2) The duties of the Registrar shall be—
(a) to attend the meetings of the Commission;
(b) to record the proceedings of the Commission and keep the minutes of each meeting in proper form; and
(c) generally to perform such duties connected with the work of the Commission as the Commission may require.
8. (1) A vacancy in the membership of the Commission occurs—
(a) on the death, resignation or revocation of the appointment of a member;
(b) on the absence of a member from three consecutive meetings of the Commission, unless the absence is approved by the President after consultation with the Chairman; or
(c) on the expiration of the term specified in a member’s instrument of appointment.
(2) A member of the Commission may be removed from office by the President acting in his discretion for inability to discharge the functions of his office whether arising from infirmity of mind or body or any other cause, or for misbehaviour.
(3) The appointment of a member of the Commission and the termination of his appointment whether by death, resignation or otherwise shall be published in the Gazette.
9. (1) The salaries and allowances of the Chairman, other members of the Commission and the Registrar shall be determined by the Salaries Review Commission.
(2) The Commission shall be provided with adequate staff for the prompt and efficient discharge of its functions under the Act.
(3) The staff of the Commission shall be public officers appointed in accordance with section 121 of the Constitution and the President may create such different grades of investigating officers as he thinks fit.
(4) All expenses incurred by the Commission for the purposes of this Act shall be a charge on the Consolidated Fund.
(5) The Commission shall appoint or employ, on such terms and conditions as it thinks fit, any such other officers and employees as it thinks necessary for the proper carrying out of its functions under this Act;
(6) The appropriate Service Commission may approve the transfer of any officer in the Public Service to any office within the Commission and any public officer so transferred shall, in relation to gratuity, pension or other allowances, be treated as continuing in the service of the Government.
10. The Commission shall, not later than 31st March in each year, make a report to Parliament of its activities in the preceding year and the report shall be tabled in the Senate and the House of Representatives not later than 31st May, so, however, that the reports shall not disclose particulars of any declaration filed with the Commission.
11. (1) A person shall, within three months of becoming a person in public life, complete and file with the Commission in the prescribed form, a declaration of his income, assets and liabilities in respect of the previous year and, thereafter, on 31st May in each succeeding year that he is a person in public life, he shall file further declarations of his income, assets and liabilities.
(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of sub section (1), the Commission may, in any particular case, for good cause, extend the time for the furnishing of a declaration for a period not exceeding six months.
(3) The declaration shall be in such form as the Commission may from time to time prescribe and may be accompanied, if the declarant so wishes, by a statement relating to his net worth as indicated by details of his income, assets and liabilities.
(4) The declaration shall be filed irrespective of the fact that during the year in respect of which the declaration is required, or in the following year, the declarant ceased to be a person in public life.
(5) Where a person in public life dies, there shall be no obligation on the administrator of his estate to file the declaration which he would have been required to file, had he lived.
(6) Where a person who is required to do so fails to file a declaration in accordance with this section or without reasonable cause, fails to furnish particulars in accordance with section 13 or fails to file the statement of registrable interests under section 14, the Commission shall publish such fact in the Gazette and at least one daily newspaper in circulation in Trinidad and Tobago.
(7) The Commission may, at any time after the publication referred to in section (6), make an ex parte application to the High Court for an order directing such person to comply with the Act and the Court may in addition to making such an order, impose such conditions as it thinks fit.
(8) A person who fails to comply with the directions of the Court, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
12. (1) A declaration required under this Act, shall include such particulars as are known to the declarant, of the income, assets and liabilities of himself, his spouse and his dependent children.
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), where—
(a) the spouse was not ordinarily living with the declarant for a continuous period of six months during the period in relation to which the declaration was made; or
(b) a dependent child was not ordinarily living with the declarant at any time during the period in relation to which the declaration was made,
the particulars required to be furnished by subsection (1) shall be limited to assets held by the spouse or child in trust for, or as agent of the declarant, except that nothing in this section shall be construed as precluding the Commission from requiring from a declarant, any additional particulars.
(3) Where a person in public life holds money or other property in trust for another person, he shall so state in his declaration but shall not be required to disclose the terms of the trust.
(4) For the purposes of a declaration under this Act, the income, assets and liabilities of a person in public life include the income, assets and liabilities acquired, held or incurred by any other person as his agent or on his behalf.
(5) Where in a declaration filed with the Commission, a person in public life discloses an income which is insufficient to support the accretion in value of the net assets disclosed so as to raise the inference that there must have been other income to account for the extent of the acquisition of such assets, the person in public life will be deemed to have been in possession of such income which has not been disclosed and the onus shall be on him to establish the source of that further income.
13. (1) The Commission shall examine every declaration that is filed and ensure that it complies with the requirements of the Act, and may request from a declarant, any information or explanation relevant to a declaration made by him and which would assist in its examination.
(2) The Commission may require that—
(a) a declarant furnish such particulars relating to his financial affairs as may be considered necessary;
(b) a declarant or his duly appointed agent attend at the offices of the Commission in order to verify his declaration;
(c) a declaration be certified by a chartered or certified accountant.
(3) Where, upon an examination under subsection (1), the Commission is satisfied that a declaration has been fully made, it shall forward to the person in public life, a Certificate of Compliance.
14. (1) A person in public life shall file with his declaration under section 11, an additional statement of registrable interests in the prescribed form, which shall contain the information required by subsection (3).
(2) The Registrar of the Commission shall compile and cause to be entered in a Register of Interests, all information furnished pursuant to subsection (1) and shall at the request of any member of the public, permit the inspection of such Register.
(3) A statement of registrable interests filed under subsection (1) shall contain information relating to a person in public life in respect of—
(a) particulars of any directorships held in any company or other corporate body;
(b) particulars of any contract made with the State;
(c) the name or description of any company, partnership or association in which the person is an investor;
(d) a concise description of any trust to which the person is a beneficiary or trustee;
(e) beneficial interest held in any land;
(f) any fund to which the person contributes;
(g) particulars of any political, trade or professional association to which the person belongs;
(h) particulars relating to sources of income; and
(i) any other substantial interest whether of a pecuniary nature or not, which he considers may appear to raise a material conflict between his private interests and his public duty.
(4) A person in public life shall notify the Registrar of any changes which may occur in his registrable interests, within six weeks of such change occurring.
(5) Nothing in this section shall be taken to require disclosure of the actual amount or extent of any financial benefit, contribution or interests.
15. Where upon the examination referred to in section 13, the Commission is of the opinion that it should enquire further into any declaration so as to ascertain whether there has been a full disclosure, it may advise the President to appoint a tribunal of two or more of its members to conduct an enquiry to verify the contents of the declaration or the statement filed with the Commission.
16. (1) A tribunal appointed under section 15 may—
(a) request in writing, that a person in public life or any other person who the tribunal reasonably believes has knowledge of the matters to be enquired into in accordance with this Act, attend before the tribunal and furnish such further information and documents as it may require, within such time as may be specified;
(b) subject to section 17(2), require the Commissioner of Police or any other public officer, to make available to it, any information received in the course of any investigation carried out into the subject matter of an enquiry under this Act, and may direct the Commissioner of Police or such other officer to make such further enquiries and investigations as it thinks necessary; and
(c) summon witnesses, require the production of documents and do all such things as it considers necessary or expedient for the purpose of carrying out its functions.
(2) In conducting an enquiry under section 15, the tribunal shall have and exercise the powers of a Commission of Enquiry under the Commissions of Enquiry Act, save that its proceedings shall be held in private.
(3) An enquiry under section 15 or an investigation under Part V may be held in relation to—
(a) a person, who within the meaning of this Act, ceases to be a person in public life or a person exercising a public function; and
(b) a person who was a person in public life under the former Act.
(4) In this section, “former Act” means the Integrity in Public Life Act, 1987, repealed by section 43.
17. (1) Where the Commission is satisfied, on the basis of an enquiry conducted under section 15 that—
(a) a breach of any of the provisions of this Act has been committed, it shall take such action as it deems appropriate; or
(b) an offence has been committed, it shall—
(i) forthwith refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions together with a certified copy of the declaration in question and a report of its findings; and
(ii) forward to the President, a report of its findings.
(2) Where the Commission determines that the subject matter of an enquiry under section 15 is—
(a) under investigation by the police or that a charge has been laid; or
(b) the subject matter of any proceedings in a Court of law,
the Commission shall hold its own enquiry in abeyance, pending final disposition of that investigation and those proceedings.
18. Where, from an enquiry under section 15, a tribunal finds that a declarant had in fact made full disclosure in his declaration, it shall, if so requested in writing by the declarant, publish a statement to that effect in the Gazette.
19. Where upon an enquiry a tribunal finds that the declaration which gave rise to the enquiry was in fact full and proper, the declarant is entitled to be indemnified in respect of all reasonable expenses as approved by the tribunal.
20. (1) Declarations filed with the Commission and the records of the Commission in respect of those declarations are secret and confidential and shall not be made public, except where a particular declaration or record is required to be produced for the purpose of or in connection with any Court proceedings against, or enquiry in respect of a declarant under this Act, the Perjury Act, the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Exchange Control Act or the Commissions of Enquiry Act.
(2) Where a declaration filed with the Commission is required to be produced for the purpose of any proceedings under subsection (1), a copy of the declaration certified by the Registrar may be delivered to the Director of Public Prosecutions upon an application being made by way of affidavit.
(3) The copy referred to in subsection (2) shall be admissible in any proceedings under subsection (1) and shall be prima facie evidence of the contents thereof.
(4) Every member of the Commission and every person performing any function in the service of, or as an employee of the Commission shall treat all declarations and records and information relating to such declarations and information as secret and confidential and shall make and subscribe to an oath of secrecy to that effect before a Justice of the Peace.
(5) Every person required under subsection (4) to deal with matters specified therein as secret and confidential who at any time communicates or attempts to communicate such information or anything contained in such documents to any person other than a person to whom he is authorised under this Act, shall be guilty of an offence and be liable on summary conviction to a fine of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and ten years imprisonment.
21. (1) A person in public life who—
(a) fails, without reasonable cause, to furnish to the Commission a declaration, or further particulars which he is required to furnish in accordance with the provisions of the Act;
(b) knowingly makes a declaration that is false;
(c) fails, without reasonable cause to give such information or explanation as the Commission or a tribunal may require;
(d) fails, without reasonable cause to attend an enquiry being conducted by a tribunal appointed under section 15 or knowingly gives false information in such enquiry,
is guilty of an offence, and liable on summary conviction to a fine of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and to imprisonment for a term of ten years.
(2) Where, a person in public life is deemed to have been in possession of undisclosed income or assets and fails to account for such further income or assets, or where upon an enquiry, it is determined that such other income or assets have existed and the person in public life deliberately omitted to disclose such information in the declaration filed with the Commission, he shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and imprisonment for a term of ten years, and where the offence involves the deliberate non-disclosure of property the Court may in addition—
(a) where the property involved is situated in Trinidad and Tobago, declare that it be forfeited to the State;
(b) where the property involved is situated outside of Trinidad and Tobago, order that an amount equivalent to the value of the property (the value to be assessed as directed by the Court), be paid by the person in public life to the State.
(3) Property acquired from a person referred to in subsection (1) by a bona fide purchaser for value without notice of any offence of that person as provided for in this section is not liable to forfeiture, but an amount equivalent to the value of the property or the price paid by the purchaser, whichever is greater, shall be paid by the person in public life to the State.
(4) Payment of all sums due to the State pursuant to paragraph (b) of subsection (1) or to subsection (2) may be enforced in like manner as a debt due to the State and any proceedings thereon on behalf of the State may be taken summarily.
(5) No prosecution of an offence under this Act other than an offence under section 20(5), may be instituted without the written consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
22. (1) Where it appears to the Commission that a breach of this Act may have been committed or a conflict of interest may have arisen, it shall order a person in public life to place his assets or part thereof in a blind trust for the purposes of this Act on such terms and conditions as the Commission considers appropriate and file a copy of the trust deed with the Commission.
(2) Where the assets of a person in public life are placed in a blind trust, he need not in his declaration give more particulars of those assets than the amount and description of these assets placed in that trust and the date of so doing.
(3) Notwithstanding any other law relating to the duties of trustees, a trust company managing the assets of a person in public life by way of a blind trust shall reply fully to any enquiries of the Commission relating to the nature and management of the assets in the blind trust.
(4) A blind trust is created when a person in public life enters into an agreement with a qualified trust company whereby—
(a) all or any part of his assets are conveyed to the trust company for its management, administration and control, in its absolute discretion without recourse or report to the persons beneficially entitled to those assets;
(b) income derived from the management of the assets is to be distributed to him as agreed;
(c) should the assets be converted into other assets, that fact is not to be communicated to him, until he ceases to be a person in public life; and
(d) after he ceases to be a person in public life, proper and full accounting is to be made to him, as the circumstances of the management of the trust require.
(5) A trust company is a qualified trust company where—
(a) it is incorporated in Trinidad and Tobago and is carrying on business in Trinidad and Tobago;
(b) no more than five per cent of the issued shares in the trust company or its affiliates is held by the person in public life entering into an agreement with it, or by any other person associated with him; and
(c) the person in public life holds no directorship or office in the trust company or its affiliates.
(6) A company is the affiliate of another where it holds more than five per cent of the issued shares in it.
(7) For the purposes of this section, a person is associated with another where that other is—
(a) the spouse or child of the person;
(b) the partner of the person in a profession, trade, or commercial undertaking; or
(c) a corporation and any person mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (b) controls the corporation, its holding corporation or a corporation affiliated with either.
(8) In subsection (7)—
(a) “child” means a child whether of full age or not and includes a child of the family within the meaning of the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act;
(b) “control” shall be construed in accordance with Rule 3 of the Third Schedule of the Corporation Tax Act.
Code of Conduct
23. This Part applies to a person in public life and to all persons exercising public functions.
24. (1) A person to whom this Part applies shall ensure that he performs his functions and administers the public resources for which he is responsible in an effective and efficient manner and shall—
(a) be fair and impartial in exercising his public duty;
(b) afford no undue preferential treatment to any group or individual;
(c) arrange his private interests whether pecuniary or otherwise in such a manner as to maintain public confidence and trust in his integrity.
(2) A person to whom this Part applies shall not—
(a) use his office for the improper advancement of his own or his family’s personal or financial interests or the interest of any person;
(b) engage in any transaction, acquire any position or have any commercial or other interest that is incompatible with his office, function and duty or the discharge thereof;
(c) use public property or services for activities not related to his official work; or
(d) directly or indirectly use his office for private gain.
(3) No person to whom this Part applies shall be a party to or shall undertake any project or activity involving the use of public funds in disregard of the Financial Orders or other Regulations applicable to such funds.
25. A person to whom this Part applies shall not use information that is gained in the execution of his office and which is not available to the general public to further or seek to further his private interests.
26. A person to whom this Part applies shall not use his office to seek to influence a decision made by another person or public body to further his own private interests.
27. (1) A person to whom this Part applies shall not accept a fee, gift or personal benefit, except compensation authorised by law, that is connected directly or indirectly with the performance of his or her duties of office.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a gift or personal benefit that is received as an incident of the protocol or social obligations that normally accompany the responsibilities of office.
(3) Where, however, a gift or personal benefit referred to in subsection (2) exceeds two thousand dollars in value or where the total value received directly or indirectly from one source in any twelve-month period exceeds two thousand dollars, a person in public life shall file with his declaration, a statement indicating the nature of the fee, gift or benefit, its source and the circumstances under which it was given or accepted.
28. Matters of a confidential nature in the possession of persons to whom this Part applies, shall be kept confidential unless the performance of duty or the needs of justice strictly require otherwise, and shall remain confidential even after separation from service.
29. (1) For the purposes of this Act, a conflict of interest is deemed to arise if a person in public life or any person exercising a public function were to make or participate in the making of a decision in the execution of his office and at the same time knows or ought reasonably to have known, that in the making of the decision, there is an opportunity either directly or indirectly to further his private interests or that of a member of his family or of any other person.
(2) Where there is a possible or perceived conflict of interest, a person to whom this Part applies, shall disclose his interest in accordance with prescribed procedures and disqualify himself from any decision-making process.
30. A person holding office under the Public Service, Judicial and Legal Service, Police Service, Teaching Service or Statutory Authorities’ Service Commission, shall upon his appointment, and from time to time as may be required, declare to the appropriate Commission in such form as may be prescribed—
(a) all business, commercial and financial interests and activities in which he is engaged; and
(b) all personal property, assets and liabilities in respect of himself, his spouse and dependent children,
provided that all information so given shall be treated as confidential.
31. (1) The Commission shall report any breach of this Part to the appropriate Service Commission, Board or other Authority and to the Director of Public Prosecutions setting out such details and particulars as it thinks fit.
(2) The appropriate Service Commission, Board or other Authority may take such disciplinary action in relation to a report made pursuant to subsection (1) as it thinks appropriate in any particular case.
(3) The Commission shall report to the Director of Public Prosecutions, any breach of this part by a Member of Parliament.
Power of Investigation
32. (1) A member of the public who wishes to allege or make a complaint that a person in public life or any person exercising a public function—
(a) is in contravention of this Act;
(b) in relation to the Register of Interests, has a conflict of interest; or
(c) is committing or has committed an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act,
may do so in writing to the Commission.
(2) Any person who knowingly and mischievously makes or causes to be made a false report to the Commission or misleads the Commission by giving false information or by making false statements or accusations shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine of five hundred thousand dollars and to imprisonment for ten years.
33. The Commission—
(a) may on its own initiative; or
(b) shall upon the complaint of any member of the public, consider and enquire into any alleged breaches of the Act or any allegations of corrupt or dishonest conduct.
34. (1) In carrying out its function under section 33, the Commission may—
(a) authorise an investigating officer to conduct an enquiry into any alleged or suspected offence;
(b) require any person, in writing, to produce, within a specified time, all books, records, accounts, reports, data, stored electronically or otherwise, or any other documents relating to the functions of any public or private body;
(c) require any person, within a specified time, to provide any information or to answer any question which the Commission considers necessary in connection with any enquiry or investigation which the Commission is empowered to conduct under this Act;
(d) require that any facts, matters or documents relating to the allegations or breach, be verified or otherwise ascertained by oral examination of the person making the complaint; or
(e) cause any witness to be summoned and examined upon oath.
(2) Where, in the course of any enquiry the Commission is satisfied that there is a need to further expedite its investigations, it may exercise the following powers:
(a) require any person to furnish a statement in writing—
(i) enumerating all movable or immovable property belonging to or possessed by him in Trinidad and Tobago or elsewhere, or held in trust for him, and specifying the date on which each such property was acquired and the considera tion paid therefore, and explaining whether it was acquired by way of purchase, gift, inheritance or otherwise;
(ii) specifying any monies or other property acquired in Trinidad and Tobago or elsewhere or sent out of Trinidad and Tobago by him or on his behalf during a specified period;
(b) require any person to furnish, notwithstanding the provisions of any other written law to the contrary, all information in his possession relating to the affairs of any suspected person being investigated and to produce or furnish any document or true copy of any document relating to the person under investigation and which is in the possession or under the control of the person required to furnish the information;
(c) require the manager of any bank, or financial institution, in addition to furnishing information specified in paragraph (b), to furnish any information or certified copies, of the accounts or the statement of accounts at the bank or financial institution of any person being investigated.
(3) A person who fails or refuses to disclose any such information or to produce any such documents, commits an offence and is liable to a fine of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars and imprisonment for a term of three years.
(4) Any person who knowingly misleads the Commission, or an investigating officer of the Commission, by giving false information, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and imprisonment for a term of five years.
(5) Where after the conduct of an investigation, the Commission is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence has been committed, it shall make a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions who may take such action as he thinks appropriate.
35. (1) The records of the Commission and any information revealed by a witness or by the production of documents, shall not be disclosed other than to such extent as may be necessary for the purpose of proceedings in any Court relating to a charge under this Act, the Prevention of Corruption Act or any other written law.
(2) Any member of the Commission and any person in the service of the Commission who discloses or attempts to disclose to any person other than a person to whom he is authorised under the Act, any information or evidence received by the Commission under this Part, shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and to imprisonment for five years.
36. (1) A person in public life or a person exercising a public function may by application in writing, request the Commission to give an opinion and make recommendations on any matter respecting his own obligations under this Act.
(2) The Commission may make such enquiries as it considers appropriate and provide the person making the application with a written opinion and recommendations.
(3) The opinion and recommendations of the Commission shall be privileged information which may be released only with the consent of the person making the application.
37. The Commission may on its own initiative consider any matter with respect to the duty or obligation of a person under this Act, where in its opinion it is in the public interest to do so.
38. No report concluding that a person to whom this Act applies has failed without reasonable justification to fulfil a duty or obligation under this Act shall be made until reasonable notice has been given to such person of the alleged failure and the person has been allowed full opportunity to be heard either in person or by an Attorney-at-law.
39. No member of the Commission shall be liable to any action or suit for any matter or thing done by him under this Act.
40. The Commission may for specific projects or investigations enter into contracts for the services of persons having technical or specified knowledge of any matter relating to the work of the Commission.
41. (1) The Commission may make Regulations prescribing—
(a) the manner in which enquiries may be carried out and any matters incidental to or consequential upon such enquiries;
(b) the standard or criteria for the initiation of such enquiries;
(c) the manner in which information received from the public would be assessed and verified;
(d) the form of declaration to be submitted and any additional forms which have been prescribed or which may become necessary;
(e) the period within which any information or document required by the Commission should be furnished or produced;
(f) (Deleted by Act No. 88 of 2000);
(g) any matter or thing in respect of which it may be necessary to make Regulations for carrying this Act into effect.
(2) Regulations made under subsection (1) shall be subject to affirmative resolution of Parliament.
42. For the purpose of the Income Tax Act, all outgoing expenses reasonably incurred in the year of income by a person in public life in connection with the preparation of a statutory declaration required to be furnished by him for the purposes of this Act, are deemed to be incurred by him wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the production of his income for that year of income.
43. The Integrity in Public Life Act, 1987 is hereby repealed.
44. Where anything has been commenced by or under the authority of the Integrity Commission under the Integrity in Public Life Act, 1987, repealed by this Act, such thing may be carried out and completed by or under the authority of the Integrity Commission.
Posted by Phillip Edward Alexander at 5:53 AM