Sunday, December 17, 2017

Ducking the mystery unit issue

Was there a Ministry of National Security-sanctioned unit led by Mervyn Cordner or is he misleading the public? That seems to be a simple and straightforward question requiring a simple and straightforward answer, but this is Trinidad and Tobago, and straightforward answers are not so easy to get.

What were the terms of reference for the unit and where is the budget proposal? Usually these are simple questions requiring simple, readily available answers but not from someone who can be "economical with the truth".

To have established a unit under the Ministry of National Security one would have had to supply a note to the Minister of National Security through the Permanent Secretary among others, outlining the needs for and of the unit, the organisational structure, the roles and responsibilities of personnel, the terms of reference for the unit (very important) and a justifiable budget proposal.

There would have been the need for the Permanent Secretary and Minister to sign the note and give further instructions in writing.

A Cabinet Note would have had to be prepared with a justification for the unit and related costs. The unit would have had to supply invoices to the Ministry for payment for goods and services.

At all levels, there would have been a considerable paper trail. Therefore it would be quite difficult for a minister to claim ignorance of a unit within his ministry, as information via a file can be had within minutes of the minister requesting it.

As such, the vague statements by the Minister of National Security as to his role and knowledge of this questionable unit within the Ministry of National Security is quite an insult to the intelligence of the people of this country.

You cannot get a stapler in any ministry without making a request in writing. How then can there be an alleged $180 million unit which pays a reported monthly rent of $200,000 and yet the Minister is being "economical" with his answers. Who was the rent for the premises occupied by Mr Cordner's unit being paid to, from which vote in the Ministry's budget is it being taken from and where are the receipts? Mr Cordner is trying to "fly" the squad, Warner is trying to duck itó the whole thing smells fishy.

Richard Smith

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