THE State has taken a decision to make a total ex gratia payment of over $2 million to Canadian top cops Dwayne Gibbs and Jack Ewatski, following their resignations announced on Monday by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
The men, who signed a three-year contract in 2010, resigned 14 months before their term came to an end, amid continuous criticisms about their performance.
In a news release issued by the Attorney General's office, Acting Attorney General Ganga Singh said the men are to be paid following a recommendation approved by the National Security Council and the Cabinet.
"The Attorney General (Ag) advises that consequent upon the resignation of the Commissioner of Police, Dr Dwayne Gibbs, and the Depu- ty Commissioner of Police, Mr Jack Ewatski, the payment of ex gratia sums in the amount of $1,277,420 and $1,210,307 respectively were recommended to, and approved by, both the National Security Council and the Cabinet," the news release said.
Singh added that the recommendation was made after "consideration of all relevant facts and is in keeping with applicable industrial relations practice and the highest standards of governance".
"In a tense and highly challenging environment, both Dr Gibbs and Mr Ewatski performed their duties courageously. Their premature departure leaves an unexpired term of 14 months under their contracts of employment, with a before tax value of $1,684,557.33 and $1,590,073.33 respectively. The agreed ex gratia payments are intended to assist both gentlemen in their resettling efforts," Singh said.
In a telephone interview with the Express yesterday, Singh said the men would receive the money at the end of their service (August 7), "in recognition of service rendered".
He added that the payment was nothing new as former High Court judge Herbert Volney, when he resigned from the judiciary to contest the 2010 general election, the then Cabinet took a decision to give him an ex gratia payment.
Asked about the perception that the ex gratia payment may be the Government's way of avoiding a breach of contract lawsuit, Singh said: "Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs was very clear he was leaving because of personal reasons; there is no question about that. That does not arise at all. When Mr Volney accepted the ex gratia payment, was that a similar situation? No! The issue of that does not arise at all."
He added that the money was not a buy-out either.
In the release, Singh extended his best wishes to Gibbs and Ewatski in their future endeavours.
Speaking to members of the media prior to the start of Emancipation Day celebrations outside the Treasury Building in Port of Spain yesterday, Singh said when the resignation was brought to the National Security Council, he was part of the discussion.
Asked whether the Government offered to reject the men's resignation, Singh said the acceptance and rejection was a matter for the Police Service Commission (PSC). Asked about the perception that the men were hounded out of office, Singh said Gibbs stated he resigned for personal reasons.
Also commenting on the issue at the celebrations was Minister of National Security Jack Warner, who distanced himself from having anything to do with the men's early departure.
When asked if the early departure of the men had anything to do with investigations surrounding FIFA's accusation of impropriety by Warner, the minister said: "That makes so much of foolishness. In the first place, I keep telling you guys, what you are looking for, with respect from FIFA, nothing exist. I don't see how a remote and foolish matter like that could have any role to play in all of this. You are selling these two men short to say that, and I want to apologise to them for that statement you have just made. Don't do that; the two men, they have come here, they have given of their best, and let them leave in peace, but don't damage their image and their character."
Asked how he would rate the men's performance, Warner, who denied he was critical of Gibbs but rather "his efforts and lack thereof", said that was a matter for the PSC and not him since he has been in the position for only 29 days. He added that his criticisms "may well be" a reason for their early departure, but both men did not state why they were resigning and he did not ask.
Gibbs, who was paid a monthly salary of $120,325.52 before tax, and Ewatski, who was paid $113,576.66 monthly, both resigned from their positions via letter to the PSC on July 26. During her nationwide address on Monday night, Persad-Bissessar informed the public that the men's resignation was accepted and was effective as of August 7.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, who was a contender for the CoP position in 2010, has been appointed by the PSC to act in the position until January of next year.