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JSC’s real power

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Thursday’s announcement of the firing of Youth Training and Employment Partnership Programme (YTEPP) CEO Nigel Forgenie may not necessarily have taken the public by surprise. This is because based on what transpired when Forgenie appeared before a Public Accounts (Enterprise) Committee of Parliament recently, it was expected that he would have faced severe sanction. Mr Forgenie lied under oath about the hiring of his spouse and this among several other anomalies raised about his 12-year tenure at the entity.

What was refreshing is that the YTEPP board subsequently conducted its own inquiry into the issues which were raised, called Mr Forgenie in to defend himself in the face of the allegations of misconduct and took decisive action. It is not often such action is taken following such meeting of Joint Select Committees of Parliament.

In fact, up to fairly recently, a real public complaint had been that these Joint Select Committee activities achieved little since very rarely were public officials held to account for anything even after indiscretions were exposed. Perhaps the closest to this would have been the shake-up which occurred at the Port Authority of T&T after some of its management appeared before at JSC to account for the Ocean Flower II and Cabo Star procurement fiasco - although one got the distinct impression this house cleaning had more to do with some of those officials “exposing” the questionable procurement practices in that arrangement to the media.

Ultimately, however, what has happened at YTEPP should be the norm. Officials exposed for negligence at JSCs should automatically face grilling by their management and be held accountable for any malfeasance. Needless to say, the public may finally find that JSCs do have power.

Let John Public know

Once again Government has found itself in a situation where one of its longstanding members - this time Public Administration Minister Marlene McDonald - have fallen ill. This newspaper certainly hopes Ms

McDonald is able to make a full recovery from her ailment since, from all accounts, it may require long-term treatment. However, the Government is once more complicating the situation by failing to communicate properly with John Public on the issue - thus creating a potential firestorm where there not necessarily be any.

Quite frankly, it should not have come to this since Government should have clearly communicated the situation from early on, instead of statements from multiple entities ultimately leading to confusion.

Coincidentally, it was the same when the PM needed to seek medical treatment abroad and La Horquetta MP Maxie Cuffie fell ill and the public sentiment was also the same. So while we understand that health issues may be sensitive, we believe John Public deserves to be levelled with since Ms McDonald is a high-ranking public official. The details may not necessarily be important but the gravity of her condition could still be expressed.


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