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Questions over land rentals prompt: Exodus from EMBD board
Many directors at the Estate Management and Business Development Co (EMBD) were expected to be writing their resignation letters last night, according to deputy chairman Steven Broadbridge. At least five of the 12-member EMBD board met in emergency session yesterday at the company’s Valpark office, while two others participated via teleconference.
Broadbridge said the meeting was called as a result of the publication of an exclusive Sunday Guardian story, which reported that Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj intended to investigate the EMBD’s land-rental agreements to business. “We are very concerned that we are not being informed properly...there is a lot of information that has not made it to the board level and it is worrying,” Broadbridge told reporters.
He said he had accepted the position at the EMBD to serve the people. “It is very disappointing to see things haven’t turned out the way we had hoped,” he said. He said a forensic audit should be done on the EMBD. “I think the people of this country deserve better...We need to run things above board, we cannot go on like this,” he added. “We need to evolve to a point where the public knows and has the confidence that their tax-paying money is being spent properly and getting value.”
He said the revelations in the Sunday Guardian story “were a big surprise. A lot of stuff that is being brought up in the (emergency) meeting, none of us knew about them, and I think that there are going to be a few resignations (over) it.” He said some members were being intimidated from within the board and were fearful of taking decisive action.
“People have been intimidated and we cannot have things work correctly if people are being intimidated. People need to do their jobs without any fear,” Broadbridge said. The EMBD was transferred from the Food Production Ministry to the Ministry of Housing, Land and Marine Affairs. At least one board member, Dhano Sookoo, was unaware of that change yesterday. She said the major objective of the EMBD was to assist in the development of food production.
“If it is now being moved to another entity (ministry), it means the thrust of the Government is no longer in agriculture and food production,” she said. Sookoo said she would tender her resignation from the EMBD last evening. Housing, Land and Marine Affairs Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal is expected to meet with the EMBD board this week. Chairman of the EMBD Krishendath Joe Ramkissoon did not attend the emergency meeting.
THE EMBD BOARD
The board was appointed under former food production Minister Vasant Bharath in December 2010 for a two-year period. The members are:
• Krishendath Joe Ramkissoon, chairman
• Steven Broadbridge, deputy chairman
• Marcus Ramdwar
• Lloyd Mungal
• Robert Salandy
• Dhano Sookoo
• Ishri Rampersad
• Davendra Duggal
• Anthony Gopaul
• Dr Ian Khan Kernahan
• Stephen Ramkissoon
• Rasheed Kondiah
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