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...Mischief making, says Ramnanan

Dr Neil Parsan, Trinidad and Tobago's Ambassador to the United States, says he is monitoring closely complaints coming out of this country's Consulate in Miami, including the dismissal of an employee from the Immigration Section.

Parsan, who is also permanent representative to the Organisation of American States (OAS), confirmed he had received correspondence from members of staff from the Consulate complaining about a number of issues.

"As regards the staff dismissal and the letter forwarded, I am aware of same and have written Capital (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) outlining my thoughts on this matter. I am certain active consideration to the recommendations will be afforded.

"Until such time, I will also monitor the progress of this very sensitive matter," said Parsan.

A five-page document dated September 9, 2012, signed by Consulate staff, was sent to Parsan asking him to intervene in the operations at the Miami Consulate.

The workers allege a lack of transparency, questionable hiring and firing practices at the Mission, and undermining of their authority.

To support their last point, they pointed to a Circular Memo No 23 from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dated February 22, 2012, which made it clear that the "the authority for recruitment and selection of locally-recruited staff is delegated to the Senior Public Officer at the Mission", and added that the conditions of service of Home-based members of staff are set out in the Civil Service (External Affairs) Regulations 1977…which should not be varied or modified without appropriate authority from headquarters".

The memo, signed by PS Margaret Parillon, was addressed to all Heads of Mission/Consuls General and Deputy Heads of Mission headlined: "Authority for the Conduct of Administrative Functions and Financial Responsibilities at Overseas Missions."

Taking issue with the hiring and firing practices, they pointed to the recent dismissal of Joseph Ronalds, adding that Security Consul, acting on instructions of the Consul General (Dr Anil Ramnanan), served a letter of immediate dismissal to him.

On the issue of lack of transparency, they point to a breach in the issuance of contracts, contrary to the financial regulations.

They allege, too, that a senior official makes sexual overtures to members of staff and the affected workers are being intimidated from filing a report in this regard.

CG Ramnanan said he has not seen or been privy to any letter sent to Ambassador Parsan. He dismissed the allegations as "vexatious, baseless, vindictive, defamatory and motivated by an ulterior agenda".

He said in the 18 months he has served as Consul General, no such allegations were ever brought to his attention.

"I have always conducted my office in a very professional manner with high morality and principles," adding that all members of staff and the public have been treated with utmost courtesy, dignity and respect.

Ramnanan said the Consul General does not award contracts, which is the remit of the Accounting Officer at the Mission.

According to him, there is a group of "disingenuous persons within the organisation that have been hurt by the progress our Mission has been making and will not allow the mandate and vision of the Government to be fulfilled".

"They will fabricate and manufacture confusion and mischief to make us lose focus."

Ramnanan pointed to a list of accomplishments of the Consulate, which, he said, include: improved customer service; creation of a user-friendly website; shorter waiting time for passports from 15 months to 15 minutes; and training of staff.

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