Monday, January 22, 2018

London: I won't be bullied by AG

TOBAGO House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Orville London said yesterday he will not be "bullied" by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.

London responded via media statement to Ramlogan's warning Friday that he, London, will be hauled before the courts if he fails to produce documents related to the MILSHIRV project and aquatic centre in Tobago in the next week.

The AG said he will take London to court under the Freedom of Information Act to compel him to release the documents. Requests have also been made by the Integrity Commission and the Ministry of Finance.

The THA said Finance Minister Larry Howai has acknowledged that it will take some time to put the documents together, in the interest of "completeness".

London, who had previously said he was prepared to release all documents on the MILSHIRV BOLT (build own lease transfer) transaction and aquatic centre, stated yesterday the public can be assured that the papers will be available for scrutiny.

"The Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly will not be bullied by the Attorney General, Anand Ramlogan, who continues to use his office to try to intimidate the THA and to persecute the Chief Secretary," the THA statement read.

"The Attorney General's unwarranted attack on the THA and his suggestion that he will take the Chief Secretary to court if the Chief Secretary does not, in one week, produce the documents surrounding the Administrative Complex for the Division of Agriculture, Marine Affairs, Marketing and the Environment to the Minister of Finance, is not just flawed in law but is another example of the Attorney General using his office to try to intimidate the Assembly and the Chief Secretary."

The THA added: "The Minister of Finance wrote to the Chief Secretary saying: 'I appreciate the need to ensure that the Assembly acts appropriately and with some degree of completeness with respect to its response in this matter and I look forward to receiving the information as soon as it becomes available'."

And further: "The Chief Secretary wishes to state categorically that at no time has the Assembly delayed in handing over documents relating to the Administrative Complex for the Division of Agriculture, Marine Affairs, Marketing and the Environment to Minister of Finance Larry Howai."

The statement continued that the Finance Minister is in "no position in law" to demand the documents and the Chief Secretary and the THA feel it necessary to make the documents available to the public--and by extension to the Minister of Finance--due to the need for public debate.

"The Chief Secretary assures the people of Tobago and the people of Trinidad and Tobago that as soon as the documents are ready they will be provided to the public," the Assembly stated.

"The reality is that the project took three years to be negotiated. Therefore there are many documents that are pertinent to the transaction that would have been prepared and exchanged which have to be identified and made available.

"In that context, the public officers in the Assembly are working with diligence to prepare all the documents for the Minister and Finance and the public and no amount of bullying or innuendo by the Attorney General will change this fact."