Labour Minister Errol McLeod will make a statement “in short order” on whether the National Entrepreneurship Development Company (Nedco) chief executive officer was fired and whether its programme manager is currently on suspension.
McLeod was asked by People’s National Movement (PNM) Senator Dianne Baldeo-Chadeesingh whether Nedco’s CEO was recently fired and why the programme manager was currently on suspension.
“Mr President, I am going to make an appropriate statement, not here, on that particular matter in short order,” McLeod said in the Senate, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, on Tuesday.
“Could the minister indicate whether or not it was because of financial impropriety in the case of the CEO, and procurement irregularities in the case of the programme manager?” Baldeo-Chadeesingh asked.
“Mr President, I indicated the state of things under the previous administration. So as not to repeat the sins of the past, we have been very particular about the performance of every single employee... in any organisation that has to do with this ministry and this Government,” McLeod replied.
“Has this been referred to the police?” Baldeo-Chadeesingh enquired.
“Mr President, I said that a statement in short order would come,” McLeod reiterated.
McLeod, in response to a question from PNM temporary senator Stuart Young, said all the delinquent loans of Nedco came from the business inherited from the last administration.
McLeod, however, noted that before this Government took office, a client went to Nedco on just a telephone call or with a note and walked away “with large sums”. He said one person received $250,000 at a time when the ceiling was $30,000.
“Sorry, is that LifeSport or Nedco?” PNM Senator Faris Al-Rawi asked.
McLeod said it had become very fashionable to just disburse loans (under the PNM).
“And I expect that is why it was being described as a slush fund,” he added.
He said between January 2011 and December 2013, approximately $13 million was provided for 391 loans.
Three hundred and thirty loans totalling $3.5 million were for sums between $1,000 and $15,000, and 61 loans totalling $9.9 million were for sums between $100,000 and $250,000.
McLeod noted Nedco, under this Government, had been able to create 61 new small and thriving micro-enterprises. He also said the Fair Share programme also allowed people to move out of the informal to the formal sector of the economy. Under this programme, 777 micro- and small businesses could access up to $1 million in business from Government and its agencies.
McLeod said there were 123 people employed by Nedco (117 full-time and six part-time). He said the total salary and emoluments per month for these people amounted to $1,002,620.08.