The State has settled the Claim for Judicial Review filed by the Heliconia Foundation for Young Professionals and its Vice President of Finance Vyash Nandlal against Devant Maharaj, former Minister of Food Production for the systematic breaches and undue delay by the former Minister in responding to numerous Freedom of Information Requests sent by the Foundation and Mr. Nandlal.
The Claim, filed on August 28, 2015 by the Foundation, came on the heels of 15 pre-action letters sent in May 2015 against former Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar and several of her former Ministers in which the Foundation complained of the former government’s systematic failure to respond to questions on the number of persons terminated, not renewed and the number of new persons employed by the Ministry of Food Production from June 2010 to November 2014 as well as the reasons for their termination and non-renewal.
The matter came up for hearing before the Honorable Justice Robin Mohammed on October 28, 2015 and Attorney at Law for the Ministry of Food Production asked that the matter be discontinued as the Ministry was now ready to produce the information requested since November 2014.
The Foundation’s evidence attached to the Claim was in the form of affidavits and accompanying exhibits filed by President of the Foundation and now Government Senator Mr. Michael Coppin and Vice-President of Finance Mr. Vyash Nandlal (who was also joined as a Claimant in the application against the Minister of Food Production) and outlined in detail the chronology of the purported breaches by the Minister of Food Production from November 2014 to August 2015. The Foundation’s current legal team includes Mr. Farid Scoon and Mr. Saeed Trotter and leave for judicial review against Garvin Nicholas former Attorney General for similar breaches of the Act is currently before the High Court for determination.
The Order of Justice Mohammed dated October 28, 2015 also ordered the State to pay the Claimants’ legal costs to be assessed in default of agreement. Heliconia Foundation For Young Professionals.
The Public Relations Officer and members of his team hosted a Focus Group session on Saturday at Balisier House. One of the objectives was to assess the Party's Youth Appeal as it relates to the success of the 2015 campaign and beyond.
The session interviewed and interacted with fifteen participants representative of various regions, backgrounds and age groups. The exercise was extremely informative and successful with the engaging support of members of the PNM Youth League.
Picture shows Ronald Huggins (PRO) addressing the meeting at Balisier House.
Some of the preliminary findings revealed that the strong youth support at the polls came from Dr Rowley's call for young persons to come forward and take responsibility for their country. Additionally the group identified new branding, quality of candidates, use of Isasha for the "Let's do this" campaign song and the promise of a Youth Leadership Institute as some of the support factors.
This is one of many initiatives by the PR Committee aimed at keeping the PNM machinery oiled. The PR committee joins the other arms of the party in preparing for the PNM's 60th Anniversary in 2016.
PNM sets the records straight
Among the statements made by Mr. Paolo Kernahan in his article headlined “All eyes on the Gov’t…and Opposition, published in the Trinidad Guardian dated Saturday September 19th, 2015, was that “Many are waiting to see what Attorney General Faris Al Rawi does regarding the extradition papers for fallen Fifa Vice President, Jack Warner”. Mr. Kernahan continued that “It is public knowledge that the PNM signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ILP during the Campaign.”
The People’s National Movement strongly condemns this unbridled attempt to mislead the population. There is no justification whatsoever in this unfounded and malicious statement.
On behalf of the PNM I wish advise the national community that at no time did the PNM sign any MOU with the ILP.
From its inception in 1956 the PNM has fought every election independently: never in alliance with any other party or political entity. It was no different in 2015.
Mr. Kernahan also implied that the PNM made a request to the EBC to extend the voting time on Election Day. The records will show that the Chairman of the PNM the Hon. Franklin Khan made it absolutely clear. “That the PNM did not make any request to the EBC for an extension of the voting time.”
We crave your indulgence to ensure that in the future care will be taken in ensuring that these types of inaccurate, baseless and damaging statements do not escape your attention especially when written by your columnists or through letters to the Editor.
With deep appreciation,
13th October 2015
Port of Spain
Re: Dr. Rampersad and the Colm column
According to the words of Nelson Mandela in an interview with Ted Koppel "one of the mistakes that some Political Analysts make, is to think that their enemies, should be our enemies".
Dr. Indira Rampersad in her Saturday column sought to describe Finance Minister Hon. Colm Imbert MP's budget presentation as "politricks". This in my opinion was unexpected from an analyst who has not entirely succeeded in appearing unbiased to the public during the lead up to the 2015 election campaign. To maintain the credibility that a position of Political Analyst requires, a scientific or researched opinion is expected.
If the urban definition of politricks holds true, politricks is the word "politics" altered to convey the empty-campaign promises often experienced after politicians get elected. This doesn't at all describe the mode of Finance Minister Colm Imbert during his Budget Presentation.
Colm Imbert did an excellent job in delivering a confident and solid budget presentation which he aligned to the People's National Movement's (PNM) 2015 Manifesto. This is the correct composure necessary at this time to help restore much needed confidence in the government. Where does the idea of politricking come from in this regard?
A preamble incorporating the state of affairs that the government met upon assuming office was highly appropriate and appreciated by the public to quell their many suspicions.
Dr Rampersad's column was particularly misleading in stating that the Finance Minister said that the Rapid Rail would be completed by the end of September 2016. A review of the presentation would reveal that the Minister gave a timeframe of the end of the fiscal year for a decision on the best financing option.
It was also strange that Dr. Indira Rampersad sought to identify the number of votes that were garnered by the Opposition. This I thought had no relevance to the column.
The quotations from Dr. Rowley's victory speech and his speech at the opening of parliament called on the nation to unite and work together in harmony. While from all reports the nation embraced this as a healthy way forward, it was referred to as "rhetoric" by Dr. Indira Rampersad.
Finally the columnist made another misleading comment that if not handled properly, the repercussions of interfering with GATE can be more political than economic. This was outrageous because the PNM introduced GATE and had to rescue the Medical Students recently from the UNC's cut in the GATE program.
There are many who may have thought there was a trend in Dr. Rampersad's offerings as an analyst which tended to favour a particular side of the political divide. On May 26th 2014 for example, in a C news interview Dr. Indira Rampersad said she believes that PP Government's approval rating will improve nearer to the 2015 General Election. This statement came after both the Local Government Election and Chaguanas Bye Election defeats for the partnership.
Dr. Rampersad has a duty to the Express Newspaper as well as the public to ensure that her columns are properly researched and represent the facts to the best of her knowledge. This particular column lacked in this regard.
Public Relations Officer
The People's National Movement (PNM) wishes to categorically deny a report in today's Guardian newspaper in which one of its suspended members, Ms Christine Levia is alleged to have stated that she was invited to the official opening of Parliament by Political Leader and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley.
The report which appeared on page A6 under the headline "Rowley invited me" conveyed the misleading impression that Levia was extended an invitation to the Ceremony from the Honourable Prime Minister.
Reports reaching the PNM reveal that Ms Levia, along with two other suspended members of the PNM, were invited to the ceremony by the Opposition Member of Parliament, Dr. Roodal Moonilal.
Accordingly, the PNM wishes to distance itself and its Political Leader and Prime Minister the Hon. Dr Keith Rowley from any activity or circumstances associated with Ms Levia’s presence at the Official Opening.
The national community is reminded that Ms Levia along with Messrs Ricardo Welch and Barry Garcia have been suspended from the Party pending the outcome of disciplinary proceedings.