Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is dismissing any allegations of nepotism or cronyism in his appointments to key state boards.
This comes after former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar alluded to such inter-family appointments during her contribution to the budget debate last week. Persad-Bissessar named no names, but said then that she planned to talk more on nepotism and cronysim on another day. Rowley, however, blasted Persad-Bissessar for her claims.
During her contribution to the budget debate last week, Persad-Bissessar spoke vaguely of "dynasties being created so that a father holding high office will have to appear before his daughter-in-law who also holds high office, and his brother is appointed as the new Hart."
While Persad-Bissessar did not name names then, it has been confirmed to the Sunday Guardian that Persad-Bissessar was referring to the familial relationship between Education Minister Anthony Garcia who is father-in-law to Senate President Christine Kangaloo, while his brother Noel Garcia has been named as the chairman of the Urban Development Corporation of T&T (Udecott).
Also, during that contribution, Persad-Bissessar mentioned that she planned to look closely at whether the campaign manager to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and husband to Speaker of the House, Neuman George, was rewarded by an appointment as the chairman of the Housing Development Corporation (HDC). Rowley dismissed that allegation. "
My campaign manager was Jackie Lazarus and she has not yet been appointed anywhere," Rowley said, in response to a text message. "Of all the other people they were considered among others and found to be the best fit for their position at this time," Rowley said.
He added a possible jab to the reports of false credentials under the PP.
"All their qualifications are genuine and their experience is valuable to the country," he said.
Rowley said that the Government, under his watch, has a large sub-committee of Cabinet which "oversees the selection and placement of board members. "So there is very little chance of appointments like the high-profile, infamous appointments which was a hallmark of a previous administration," Rowley said.
Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie also commented on the allegations and said that the former prime minister needed to check the definitions of the words "nepotism" and "cronyism." Cuffie said the appointment of the senate president's father-in-law as a minister is "neither cronyism nor nepotism."
"The Education Minister had no role in either appointment or nomination. The Senate President was appointed by the Senators and I am not aware of any objections even by the UNC Senators," Cuffie said in an email interview.
ALLEGATIONS UNDER PP
In 2011, then opposition leader, Dr Keith Rowley, accused the government of appointing party favourites and close friends to key senior posts. One such position highlighted by Rowley was the appointment of Reshmi Ramnarine to the head of the Security Intelligence Agency.
Rowley also accused the UNC of appointing ministerial crony Ganga Singh as the chief executive officer of the state-owned Water and Sewerage Authority. Singh was later named minister of the environment and water resources after a cabinet shake-up.
NEPOTISM UNDER THE PNM
In 2002, the primary charge of nepotism under the Patrick Manning-led PNM was the appointment of his wife, Hazel Manning, as the education minister.