«197 Leave of Absence Friday, July 23, 1999 HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Friday, July 23, 1999 The House met at 1.30 p.m. PRAYERS [MR. SPEAKER in the ...»
If the property consists of land, a summons for sale of the land will have to be taken out. This entails a hearing before a judge. If the person does not own land but owns other property, the successful party can take steps to levy against the property in satisfaction of that debt. If the unsuccessful party is not the owner of either real or personal property but has an income or potential income, a judgment summons can be filed and it has to be heard by a judge in an attempt to get that judge to make an order for the payment of the debt by instalments. If the person fails to pay, as ordered by the judge, the person can be liable to serve a term of simple imprisonment.
It can be readily seen that the enforcement process for costs is not a simple exercise and the Chief State Solicitor’s Office has found it difficult for its lawyers to be engaged in this process and, at the same time, to be engaged in instructing advocate attorneys in court.
204 Oral Answers to Questions Friday, July 23, 1999 [SEN. R. L. MAHARAJ] Mr. Speaker, upon assuming office as Attorney General, I met with the Chief State Solicitor’s Department and became aware of these problems. Steps were
taken by me in an effort to address these problems. They are as follows:
(1) The majority of vacant posts for professional officers were filled.
(2) Two additional lawyers were employed on contract.
(3) Physical working conditions were made more comfortable as the aircondition units were repaired and put in working order.
(4) A heavy-duty photocopier was provided.
(5) All old computers and printers were replaced and new ones were also provided.
Mr. Speaker, the Chief State Solicitor’s Office has started to address the backlog and, in that regard, bills of costs for some of the outstanding matters shown in the appendix have been, and are being, prepared. The task is monumental, however, and steps are being taken to see if a specialized enforcement unit within that department can be set up. In this regard, a strategic assessment review is being undertaken in the Ministry and, on completion, would facilitate the establishment of such an enforcement unit.
With the imminent relocation of the Ministry of the Attorney General to its new building, physical working conditions will even be better, the handicap of a physically disjointed Ministry will be eliminated, and a networking operating system with case management would be implemented, which would facilitate integration of various office procedures in the entire Ministry, including the Civil Law Department.
I should mention, however, that the omission over the years to provide the necessary resources to implement the police of the state to enforce costs has prejudiced the interest of the state, since the provisions of the State Liability and Proceedings Act, Chap. 8:02, as amended by Act No. 8 of 1976, seem to require the state to enforce costs in the same way as private individuals. That is, within 12 years of the date of the award. This principle seems to be fortified by section 3 of the Limitation of Proceedings Act, 1997.
The rules of court place a time limit within which proceedings for taxation of costs must be commenced and gives the court the discretion to extend the time— Order 62 of the Rules of the Supreme Court. Mr. Speaker, there has been, 205 Oral Answers to Questions Friday, July 23, 1999 however, one instance in the past in which the state has executed its policy to enforce costs. In this regard, the Chief State Solicitor has informed me that the state enforced the payment of costs by an unsuccessful applicant in a constitutional motion. This was in the case of Endell Thomas vs. Attorney General, No. 2227 of 1972. I am informed that the state seized and sold the car of Endell Thomas in 1989 and realized $11,168.70 as part payment of the costs which were owed to the state. The Chief State Solicitor has informed me that this enforcement was done as Mr. Thomas was instituting new matters without paying outstanding costs for previous matters.
There is a case in which the unsuccessful applicant paid the tax cost to the state. That case is TTUTA and Candice Chin Choy vs. The Minister of Finance.
That is action 214 of 1984. Mr. Speaker, TTUTA paid costs in the sum of $118,931.30 in the year 1993. That is under the last administration. After the bill, of course, was taxed, the Chief State Solicitor’s Office made a demand for payment. That union paid the sum so that no steps could be taken against it for seizure of its assets or its de-certification as a trade union.
There is a case in which the unsuccessful applicant made a request of the state for it to waive costs. In that case, Patrick Manning vs. The Attorney General and others, No. 1000 of 1997 and No. 834 of 1997. There was a judicial review application and a constitutional motion which were both consolidated. The attorney for applicant on April 20, 1997, before Madam Justice Warner, informed the court during the hearing of the matter that he could not continue the matter.
The judge dismissed the consolidated action and awarded costs to the state. The costs were taxed in the amount of $1,153,811.08. The applicant was represented at the hearing of the taxation of cost by an attorney. The applicant did not seek to challenge subsequently, by way of review or appeal, the quantum of the costs which were awarded.
The Chief State Solicitor’s Office has informed me that steps were not taken by it to enforce the payment of those costs against Mr. Manning, the plaintiff in that matter, and that the state only acted in respect to Mr. Manning’s request to waive costs which was made through Mr. Manning’s attorneys. Mr. Speaker, it was not possible to waive costs in the light of the long-standing policy of the state to enforce costs in these matters. Obviously, the Constitution guarantees equality of treatment. The applicant has offered to pay and has, in fact, sent a cheque in the sum of $125,000 on account with an offer to pay the rest by instalment in an 206 Oral Answers to Questions Friday, July 23, 1999 [SEN. R. L. MAHARAJ] amount of not less than $10,000 per month. This request is still under consideration by the Ministry.
Mr. Speaker, there is a list of the matters here which, if the House wants me to, I can read, giving the names of the matters, the parties and the comments. I beg leave to introduce it.
Mr. Valley: Mr. Speaker, I would appreciate if the hon. Attorney General can read those matters in which costs were awarded to the state and no demand has been made by the state for these costs. I am interested in those matters.
Hon. R. L. Maharaj: Mr. Speaker, I have answered the question and I do not think I can add more to the question I have answered. It is clear as crystal, and if needed, I will read it out.
Mr. Speaker: The question is this: do you have any objection to the list being laid on the Table so that one could have a look, or do you want it read?
Mr. Valley: Mr. Speaker, I do prefer that it be read out.
Mr. Speaker: Please continue.
Hon. R. L. Maharaj: I am much obliged, Mr. Speaker, list of constitutional matters in which the state won and their status of costs for the period 1976—May
is as follows:
Mr. Valley: Mr. Speaker, could I just ask a question? Looking at that Standing Order, I assumed questions not yet answered— Mr. Speaker: We are not doing it like that. It is 2.15 p.m., we have taken enough time on this topic, the time allotted for the answering of questions is up to
2.15 p.m. I am ruling that the rest of the answer should be given in writing, as set out in Standing Order 19(7).
Mr. Valley: [Inaudible] Mr. Speaker: You could always come into my Chambers and have that clarified. [Interruption] I beg your pardon! How dare the Member for San Fernando East suggest that I do not have to carry on like that?
Next item, please.
Vide end of sitting for written part of answer.
DEFINITE URGENT MATTERSiparia Regional Corporation (Delayed election of Alderman) Mr. Hedwige Bereaux (La Brea): Mr. Speaker, in accordance with the provisions of Standing Order 12(1) and (2), I hereby ask leave to move the adjournment of the House at its sitting today, Friday, July 23, 1999, in order to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, to wit, the failure of the Chief Executive Officer of the Siparia Regional Corporation, Mr. Raman Mahabir, to convene the meeting of the Siparia Regional Corporation for the purpose of electing aldermen of the said corporation.
The matter is definite because it refers to a specific and identifiable failure of the administration, namely the holding and pursuing to its conclusion the requisite meeting provided for in section 13(1) of the Municipal Corporations Act, No. 21 of 1990.
It is urgent because section 13(1)(c) of the Municipal Corporations Act, 1990
“...the election of Aldermen shall be held at a meeting of the Council convened for that purpose on the third day next following the day on which the Councillors were elected to office and at this meeting, of which the Chief Executive Officer shall be the chairman, the business to be transacted shall be,
219 Definite Urgent Matter Friday, July 23, 1999 (c) thirdly, the election of Aldermen.” At the meeting which was called on July 16, 1999, the chairman adjourned the meeting without completing the election of aldermen and without stating any date upon which the meeting is to be reconvened. Seven days have elapsed and the meeting has not been reconvened nor has any statement been made as to the date when it will be reconvened.
All attempts to locate the Chief Executive Officer/Chairman have proven futile. Neither the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government nor any senior officer of that ministry is able to account for the whereabouts of the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Siparia Regional Corporation.
In the circumstances, the Siparia Regional Corporation has not been able to begin its operation because it is not properly constituted.
This matter is of public importance because the Siparia Regional Corporation is a public one, electors have voted for persons, to wit councillors, to become members of that Corporation and to carry out the legitimate business of those electors and citizens.
Any hindrance to the effective functioning of the Corporation is a frustration of the rights of the people and constitutes a naked attack on democracy.
Mr. Speaker: I wish to advise the hon. Member that I am not satisfied that this qualifies under Standing Order 12 for emergency debate. However, I advise him that under Standing Order 11, he could give three days’ notice and have the matter raised as a matter in this House for answer by the relevant minister. I so advise.
PROJECT EXCEL (INC’N) BILL Select Committee Report Adoption Dr. Fuad Khan (San Juan/Barataria): Mr. Speaker, I beg to move the following motion standing in my name.
Be It Resolved that the House adopt the Report of the Special Select Committee appointed to consider and report on a private Bill entitled “An Act for the Incorporation of Project Excel and for matters incidental thereto”.
Mr. Speaker, could I just say a small piece on behalf of Project Excel. Project Excel is a group which has been in existence for a while. They deal with the prevention of drug use rather than rehabilitation. It is a group of dedicated 220 Project Excel (Inc’n) Bill Friday, July 23, 1999 [DR. KHAN] individuals made up of police officers and other people whose sole design is to prevent the youths of this country from engaging in drug use by telling them of the evils and the consequences of drug use. I would like to pay special mention to two people who impressed me on the executive: they are Ms. Lalsingh and Officer Sharbodie. They give much of their time to help youths in this regard.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to move.
Seconded by Mrs. Eulalie James.
Question put and agreed to.
Question put and agreed to, That the Bill be now read the third time.
Bill accordingly read the third time and passed.
(UNSATISFACTORY AWARD OF CONTRACTS)[THIRD DAY]
Order read for resuming adjourned debate on question [May 28, 1999]:
Be it Resolved, that the House condemn this Government and the State Agencies for the unsatisfactory manner in which they have awarded contracts and engaged personnel within the last three years. [Mr. C. Imbert] Question again proposed.
Mr. Speaker: The Member for Tobago East was the Member who was speaking when this matter was adjourned, and he had utilized some five minutes of his speaking time. I now call upon him to continue.
The Minister of Tobago Affairs (Dr. The Hon. Morgan Job): Mr. Speaker, I have to congratulate the Member for Diego Martin East for once again bringing to the public’s mind the issue of corruption and, indeed, I have his own words which I shall quote for the benefit of the citizens of this nation and this Government of which I have the honour to be a part. Using the tendering process avoiding bidding to facilitate corruption, he says the Panday Administration is using Cabinet to facilitate the abuse of the public’s purse, that Cabinet is the facilitator of corruption and he gave details which I would get into as I proceed.
221 State Agencies Friday, July 23, 1999 Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt that the national community will agree with what is evidently obvious, that Trinidad and Tobago is not a paradise, we do not live in heaven. I have a speech which was delivered sometime in September 1996
and I quote with your leave:
“...Ever since the Spanish invaders arrived in Latin America more than five centuries ago, offering lavish gifts to the local Indian chieftains, corruption has been as integral to daily life as the Spanish language and the Catholic Church.
Corruption has been institutionalized since the conquistadores arrived with one mission: spread Christianity and send us gold, minus ‘any operating expenses’.” Mr. Manning: Quoted from where?
Dr. The Hon. M. Job: I see here, “Latin Trade, September 1996, The Other Face of Business in Latin America”.