«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 ...»
The Member for Tobago East stands here today and says that the Prime Minister cannot stop corruption. The Prime Minister is the leader of his Cabinet and the leader of the Government. That could not have happened under the Member of Parliament for San Fernando East when the PNM was in control! [Desk thumping] What has happened during the last three and a half years is that every Minister here can do what he wants and it is okay with the Member for Couva 245 State Agencies Friday, July 23, 1999 North. “We only have five years and we only have one more year to go. Go ahead and enjoy yourselves. Next year we will deal with that.” The Minister has to tell some of his colleagues on that side about Exodus.
According to one fellow, he said like apparently it is All Stars or Desperadoes.
Exodus is in the Bible. The sins of these people will follow them up to the third and fourth generations. The sins have now started to fall on them. Ask the Member for Arima how two Mondays ago his sins fell on him! Ask the Member for Point Fortin how his sins fell on him! [Desk thumping] And it still has to go to the third and fourth generations. This is why the Member for Tunapuna and myself are still on this side, and soon to be on that side.
Can one believe that he blamed the PNM for this entire situation in the country today, and we have progressed a long way since 1956? A 10-year old in 1986 is now 23 years old. He was ready for an education in the same system we left—the common entrance. Forget the bad books and corruption, but a 5-year old at that time, now entering primary school, is today 18 years old! He got his education there!
Dr. Griffith: You could count?
Mr. J. Narine: I could count better than you. I do not know where you got your certificates. The people are asking that in Arima. [Laughter] Mr. Deputy Speaker, is this the same Member of Parliament for Tobago East who worked with the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources and did not report for duty for three years but got paid for it? Is this the same Member of Parliament, when I worked at the Ministry, brought produce every Friday to sell on working time in the Ministry—pork and other things? Yet he is talking about corruption today, going all over the place and not dealing with the Motion on the agenda?
Hon. Member: What about the loan?
Mr. J. Narine: Forget the loan. I do not know if he repaid it yet, but that was made available to him by the PNM—a caring Government. Today he can talk fart here about education in Trinidad and Tobago.
Dr. Nanan: Mr. Deputy Speaker, on a point of order.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: On what point of order?
Dr. Nanan: Improper motive. Standing Order 36(5).
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I will have to overrule that.
246 State Agencies Friday, July 23, 1999 Mr. J. Narine: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If they could blame anybody and blame the PNM for not having a proper education system, it is proven by the Member for Tobago East and the Member for Tabaquite. [Desk thumping] Mr. Deputy Speaker: Standing Order 36(5) might not be correct, but 36(4) is what we are looking at here now: insultive words, lack of education and calling the members’ names will not be permitted.
Mr. Bereaux: Lack of education is a normal thing.
Mr. J. Narine: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not have to use insultive language in Parliament. They have gone all over the country and done it. It is important that people know that the People’s National Movement, since 1956, has created systems in this country where we did not have this type of corruption that is taking place today under this UNC regime, having broken off from the NAR.
The Member for Tobago East says that today he belongs to this Government, having won his seat on an NAR ticket. No wonder persons in Tobago are dissatisfied with him and his. We will deal with that in a couple of months. We are here to deal with an issue raised by the Member of Parliament for Diego Martin East in that over the last three and a half years—I would like to extend it— we have had a Government that does not follow the financial regulations, does not follow the laws of Trinidad and Tobago, and I am going to point out some of these instances.
It was really clear in 1996 when I took up the newspaper one day and saw that they were stale-dating cheques in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources. The Minister never answered that question when it was raised here.
UNC party groups were to collect cheques at the Ministry. I raised that matter here.
They were going to be stale-dated and they had an advertisement in the newspapers asking them to collect their cheques before the six-month period should expire. Two cheques—their quoted numbers are in the Hansard—that two UNC party groups were to collect at the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources. That alone tells that this was the action that was going to take place over the next five years.
I am saying today that my colleagues have dealt with all the national corruption that is taking place, like the National Flour Mills. Do not mind that the DPP says there is no fraud in NFM, but we are $30 million poorer. Do not mention Piarco, Maritime Life Insurance—$52 million to a private company to bail them out of some situation up in Balandra— 247 State Agencies Friday, July 23, 1999 Hon. Partap: National Fisheries!
Mr. J. Narine: Do not interfere with me. The Member went to Cumuto junction and cursed the people on a microphone for elections. Stay quiet! He is not fit to represent the people. My family reported to me that he is obscene and there is a bag man who lives in Cumuto in his Ministry. We will deal with that another time.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, this is the first time that a Government bought old buses for the people of Trinidad and Tobago and spent $30 million for storage. Those things are known to the general public of Trinidad and Tobago. Do not talk about the pageant business! This beauty contest was held in Trinidad, I think that my colleagues— Dr. Griffith: Did you go?
Mr. J. Narine: I went to see what was taking place. I sat on the chairs that were rented for $1 million and they cost $800,000 to build. I sat on those chairs that were advertised for sale and the rest have gone to the Centre of Excellence for FIFA to pay again. I sat on them, but I also know what took place because Doc Engineering did the chairs. They tendered for the contract to build the chairs, but they got it through the back door. Somebody who does not even have a hacksaw blade got it. That is the situation here.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I will deal first with some of the small things taking place, that when we add them up, they can compare to the Piarco scandal, the book fiasco, NFM and most of the road building that is done in Trinidad. Maybe I might talk about that when I get there along with the Mosquito Creek situation where the Minister was building a rubble drain to stop the sea water from coming in. I will first deal with the Auditor General's Report.
I would like to turn to page 78 of the Auditor General’s Report where it starts
with the Arima Borough Corporation which states:
“8.06 A cash book and a Daily
of Revenue were not produced for audit.”
under the Unspent Balance:
“The amount of $341,363.00 was released to this Corporation on 1998 September 30 to meet expenditure on projects during the period of account 248 State Agencies Friday, July 23, 1999 [MR. NARINE] 1998 January 01 to 1998 September 30. The amount was received by the Corporation on 1998 October 09. As at 1999 February, this unspent balance was not deposited with the Comptroller of Accounts as required. Paragraph
8.04 refers.” What I am saying is during this period, the Minister of Local Government issued instructions to the Arima Borough Corporation stating that the accounts are to be removed and they are to be placed under specific persons and this came from Kent House, Maraval. I have the correspondence here with the Minister’s
signature, which states quite clearly:
“I am to inform you that by virtue of the powers vested in me as the Minister of Local Government by section 269 of the Municipal Corporations Act, 1990, I have undertaken the following decisions with the view to ensuring that the policy objectives of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, with respect to the operations of the Unemployment Relief Programme are met without any disruption by the executing agency, the Arima Borough Corporation.” This is what they are speaking about. The Minister of Local Government went on
“In reference to these objectives the Town Clerk and Treasurer is hereby
(1) To open a Bank Account in the name of the Town Clerk and Treasurer; Arima Corporation;
(2) The Bank Account shall be designated Unemployment Relief Programme for the Arima Borough Corporation;
(3) To transfer the said account of any existing balances from the previous designated Unemployment Relief Programme;
(4) The authorized signatories to the accounts shall be the Town Clerk and Treasurer and the Accountant II as main signatories.” Mr. Singh: That is normal.
Mr. J. Narine: Normal what! There is an elected body in Arima but the Minister went about doing this, so that he is responsible today when the Auditor General is saying that his Ministry— 249 State Agencies Friday, July 23, 1999 Mr. Deputy Speaker, may I say, the Auditor General’s Report, which was laid recently from January to September of last year, is actually telling us that this is the worst Government that ever came into being and did not follow the financial regulations and so on which are recorded in this report.
The newspaper quite rightly went ahead and published one of the headlines:
“Where the $$ gone?” because throughout the Auditor General’s Report for this year and last year it indicated that none of the unspent balances in most of the corporations went back to the Consolidated Fund.
So that you will have a headline like this in the Independent dated Friday, May 28, 1999, and I was not surprised because we were making this point and asking questions in Parliament. By the time the Minister answered, we got the answer here in the Auditor General’s Report.
Mr. Hart: The Bible.
Mr. J. Narine: I will come to this as I continue another part of this newspaper clipping which had the headline: “No tenders for $217,119.00 in contracts” and you will remember Jogie Contractors—the Minister’s favourite contracting firm in Couva/Talparo/Tabaquite—and this was in contracts. I will tell you again another headline here states that the “Auditor General slams $4m Couva Pool”— swimming pool in Couva. They could have built a new swimming pool for that money and they spent $4 million to repair a swimming pool in Railway Street in Couva.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am saying when you go ahead and read the report, you will understand why throughout the report the Auditor General is saying that the procedures were not adhered to.
Mr. Singh: On a point of clarification.
Mr. J. Narine: Look! I try to give way to you on July 12, 1999 and you got blown out. [Laughter] Mr. Deputy Speaker, so that we are saying that there is a situation here where the Minister was aware of what was taking place by correspondence from the Arima Borough Town Clerk and I will come to these matters as I go along.
We talked about May 4, 1999, where the Town Clerk was indicating to the Minister and his Ministry that there was corruption taking place in Arima and he sent it to Mr. Keith Denalli, Programme Manager (URP).
250 State Agencies Friday, July 23, 1999 [MR. NARINE] “In response to your letter of May 3, 1999, I wish to state that I am totally disappointed in receiving such a letter...” This is a reply.
“since the three matters raised in your letter were discussed and an agreement reached during our meeting on Monday April 26, 1999.” The first issueThe Northeast Sanitation Gang for the period 12 - 23/4/99” which was April last year.
“You would recall that at our meeting on Monday April 26, it was agreed that Mr. John Baksh, Sanitation Foreman III, with the Arima Municipal Corporation, had to visit the areas where the gang worked in company with the Project Supervisor, Mr. Farrier. After which he would certify the claim, which would then be taken to the URP Sub-committee covering approval.
Mr. Baksh was informed in writing by Mr. Farrier of the areas where the gang worked. However, when they visited the sites, Mr. Baksh could only report in writing that there were no signs that a gang worked in the said areas during the fortnight.” Mr. Deputy Speaker, it meant that these matters continue. I do not want to burden you with all these letters but I am saying that the Town Clerk wrote to the Minister on May 12, 1999, and the subject matter was “Unauthorized Payment”.
The Town Clerk was indicating to him that he had made unauthorized payment to
certain persons and it states:
“I am to inform you that Ms Christina Abraham, Checker, employed on the Arima Health Center, Sanitation Gang has made an official complaint to me this morning, Wednesday May 12, 1999.”
Mrs. Abraham had complained that two workers employed on the gang, who are responsible for timing, Mr. Anslem Lewis—who went for screening for the UNC to contest a local Government seat, who they put to contest another seat and then left it because he knew that he would have been beaten two to one in Arouca North—and Mr. Martin Hollingsworth, who was also— 251 Adjournment Friday, July 23, 1999
ADJOURNMENTThe Attorney General (Hon. Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj): Mr. Deputy Speaker, I know the Member would continue on the next day. By agreement, there are some motions on the adjournment, so we would take the adjournment at this stage.
I beg to move that the House stands adjourned to Monday, July 26, 1999 at
10.00 a.m. But before we take the adjournment, apart from the motions, there are two Private Members’ Bills.