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Tewarie moves to disband CDA board (with CNC3 video)
Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie is recommending to Cabinet that the board members of the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA) should be changed. Tewarie was responding yesterday to reports that the telephone records of a Sunday Guardian reporter had been leaked to the CDA.
On Monday, the CDA issued a release saying it had not sought the reporter’s phone records, but had examined the records of CDA phones to ascertain which staff members had been talking to the media. Seven of the nine members of the board also issued a disclaimer on Monday, saying they had had nothing to do with any attempts to obtain phone records.
Those who did not sign it were chairman Daniel Solomon and head of human resources Christopher Street. “We are making proposals to Cabinet for a change in the board, that’s the first thing,” Tewarie said.
“I am taking a note to Cabinet for a change of board, and it’s up to Cabinet to decide. I think there has been a fair amount of misinformation on some of the issues relating to CDA. When the board is changed, I would be happy to speak to the media about the issues.”
Tewarie was speaking to reporters yesterday after the T&T Manufacturers Association’s panel discussion on issues affecting T&T’s competitiveness, held at the Hilton Trinidad in Port-of-Spain. In spite of this recommendation being made to Cabinet, Tewarie had a lot to say about what he described as “inaccurate reporting.”
“I did get in touch with the Guardian Editor-in-Chief this morning and I asked her specifically if she would arrange for an independent reporter to interview the chairman of the CDA board and the CEO of the CDA (Judith Mark) so they can give their point of view.”
He said T&T Guardian EIC Judy Raymond had told him Solomon and Mark had not been willing to give their side of the story. “I asked him (Solomon) if he could get in touch with the CEO so that she could express her point of view, and I asked Ms Raymond if, in her editorial decision-making authority, she could assign what could be an independent reporter to interview them,” Tewarie said.
Asked what he meant by “independent reporter,” Tewarie said, “I meant someone who is not now involved in any of the controversial articles.” Tewarie admitted he did not know the facts, but added, “What I do know is that I spoke to the chairman and he indicated to me that the report in the newspaper is not rooted in fact.
“That’s why I asked that he be interviewed, so he can clear his position.” Pressed for more answers about the conduct of board members, Tewarie said: “The board has been too fractious, it has been too contentious. “This is a board I inherited, it was not a board that I recommended...It has not had harmony, it seemed to be not receptive to reasonable discourse and reasonable persuasion,” he said.
“If you cannot get the board to agree to make decisions, then you have a problem. You’ve got to address it.” He said he had other concerns about the board, but was not willing to disclose them. “I would engage fully with the media if and when Cabinet changes the board,” he said.
Asked how the board had reacted, Tewarie said: “As of now, despite the newspaper report, the response from my chairman is that the article is incorrect, that is to say, there was no request to TSTT for the phone records. “I want to say, from my point of view, I believe absolutely in the freedom of the press, I believe in responsible freedom for the press,” he said.
“I also believe the reporter—any reporter—has a right to conduct investigative journalism to find anything that he or she feels that they should find, so that issue is not a controversial issue for them. “I have to act on the basis of the facts and I am not sure what the facts are, because it is possible for someone not to tell the truth, it is possible for the press to make a mistake, even in doing its job.”
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