Unfortunately today, corruption is apparent and widespread in government agencies and public enterprises. Our country is plagued, yet again by a PNM administration that promotes nepotism and wasting money.
Last Thursday the Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Stuart Young announced that a five member committee inclusive of his father, Mr. Richard Young, will be tasked with assessing businesses that are interested in large and medium scale projects to stimulate Trinidad and Tobago’s economy.
Mr. Christian Mouttet, the sole investigator of the “ferrygate” fiasco is now charged with leading this committee. The citizenry would like to know if Mr. Mouttet is now the new face of the government. Does his expertise surpass that of all public servants?
The government needs to tell us the financial implications of setting up this committee. Are the members offering their expertise pro bono? If the committee members are to receive stipends; one would think during these dismal times in which we need to be careful in our spending the PNM would seek to utilize the experts at the ministries of Finance, Trade and Industry and Planning who are already on the pay roll.
Many prominent persons within the public and private sector have criticized the establishment of this committee because of its abstruse mandate. President of the American Chamber of Industry and Commerce Mitchell de Silva said “the fact that government is forming a committee to facilitate better communication is good, but we need to know exactly what the intent or the terms of reference are. Ultimately forming the committee is one thing. But without terms of reference we don’t know what is achieved.”
It is clear that the government is clueless about taking us out of economic catastrophe they have facilitated. They continue to bring rudimentary initiatives, with no proper plan or strategy for execution. The doing for the sake of doing PNM philosophy cannot bring relief to the thousands who have lost their jobs due to their incompetence in manging Trinidad and Tobago’s affairs.
The government has to come clean about Mr. Richard Young’s appointment to the Implementation Committee. In the PNM’s 2015 manifesto, the glorified pamphlet that has crippled our country, they said “Members of Parliament should avoid placing themselves under any obligation to the people that might try to inappropriately to influence them in their work or act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves their family or their friends. They must disclose to Parliament all potential conflicts of interest.”
In light of these assertions, the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago would like to know why Mr. Richard Young was appointment to this committee since it is poses a major conflict of interest. Did Minster Young recuse himself from the selection process when the committee members were screened and selected?
When the finance Minister was asked about Mr. Richard Young’s heavy involvement in public affairs, in spite of his son’s ministerial portfolio, Minister Imbert boldly stated, “he was satisfied that Young (Richard) has the expertise, competence and qualifications not only to manage the (TTFCMC) but to also assist the Government in terms of its relationship with the private sector and getting things done.”
If the shoe was on the other foot and a Partnership government had made such a claim, there would be a PNM outcry. This exhibits a blatant lack of accountability by the PNM government. The business community has no credible knowledge of the role of the committee, yet the Finance Minister asserts his satisfaction.
The committee will be reporting to the Office of the Prime Minster. Will Minister Young be removed to facilitate his father’s appointment? This wanton disrespect to the intelligence of the people of Trinidad and Tobago can no longer be tolerated.
Vidia Gayadeen- Gopeesingh
Dated 16th January 2018