Minister of Finance Colm Imbert’s use of his office, the state’s resources and taxpayer’s money to fund his personal vendetta against a former Governor of the Central Bank exposes the levels to which this PNM Government is willing to stoop in order to persecute, malign, terrorize and intimidate individuals who refuse to follow political directions. To his credit Mr. Rambarran stood fast and remained true to his principles. Not satisfied with having Mr. Rambarran fired by an Acting President, a matter the court found inappropriate, the Minister went further to insert his views to prevent Mr. Rambarran from seeking gainful employment. Here too, the court found that the Minister’s actions were patently unfair.
This is an abuse of process. The court was very clear in its ruling on the matter in June 2022 when it said “the court is of the firm and resolute view that the process by which the claimant’s appointment as the Governor of the CBTT was revoked was seriously flawed with no real attempt made to accord with the principles of natural justice and the provisions of sections 4 (b) and 5 (2) (e) of the Constitution.”
In fact, the ruling continues, “The Minister’s admission to having closed his mind to any further consultation with the claimant, a consultation in which he himself had not been open with the claimant, is in clear breach of the protection of the law and the claimant’s right to be heard.”
The fact that the court agreed that Minister Imbert’s actions against the then Governor of the Central Bank were contrary to law is worrisome. What is worse however, is that this type of interference in the operations of independent institutions by the Government is now becoming the norm. The Prime Minister’s interference in the appointment process of a Commissioner of Police caused the collapse of the Police Service Commission and to date, in the midst of the worse crime wave in our history, the country is still without a substantive Commissioner of Police and the posts of two Deputy Commissioners of Police remain vacant. Minister Imbert recently was also found to have acted unlawfully in bypassing a public servant for promotion at the Board of Inland Revenue.
The Minister of Finance has indicated his intention to appeal the court’s judgement. I challenge the Minister of Finance to tell the country how much this legal attack on the former Governor has cost taxpayers so far. It has been reported in the public domain that at least one of lawyers in this matter, former PNM Attorney General Mr. Russel Martineau received more than $21 million in fees for legal work done since the PNM has been in office.
This is money extracted from taxpayers who now have to pay for the Minister’s unlawful actions, while the Minister himself is not held accountable for his breeches. It is patently unfair that Minister Imbert and his colleagues could engage in persecution of individuals, and use public funds to support them. In fact, this vindictive vendetta has already cost taxpayers millions with more to be paid to Mr. Imbert’s favored attorneys for this malicious personal persecution.
It seems that while the ordinary citizen is denied justice as we cannot afford the astronomical legal fees, the State’s deep pockets ensure that matters are lengthened and the feeding at the trough continues unabated. This works for the PNM Ministers and their legal counsels but it is to the detriment of the taxpayers of the country.
If PNM Minister of Finance Colm Imbert and his colleagues want to engage in personal political attacks against individuals, then they should be willing to be held accountable for their actions and pay for it out of their own pockets. This abuse of office must stop.