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Sunday, December 08, 2013
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Moonilal on Warner’s role in Works Ministry: Jack pressured Cabinet ministers
Former minister Jack Warner, now Independent Liberal Party (ILP) leader, sometimes pressured Cabinet members and it also became clear “one had to put greater oversight on any of his portfolio areas” that required expenditure, said People’s Partnership frontline minister Roodal Moonilal yesterday.
In an interview prior to the Parliament sitting yesterday, Moonilal was asked how the Cabinet had allowed the Works Ministry to approve renting a building from Daryan Warner, son of Jack Warner, for use in the Citizens Security Programme, an organisation under the National Security Ministry, when Warner was then Works Minister. Moonilal had referred to the rental in Parliament on Tuesday saying the Mucurapo Road building was approved for DW Property Holdings.
Warner later became National Security Minister. Moonilal said yesterday there was no record that Warner recused himself from Cabinet deliberations on the matter. “I’m looking at the record and I am not seeing it. I believe he participated. We will confirm the record,” he added. He said the Works Ministry did approvals of all buildings and in the case they provided approvals. At the time the Property Division was not under Housing but under the Public Administration division, he said.
Moonilal added: “The procedure is all buildings must have approvals from the Inspectorate of the Works Ministry but the problem here is the very minister doing the approvals is the minister whose family has an interest in the building.” On why Cabinet allowed the Works Ministry to undertake the venture, Moonilal said: “It would have been done on the recommendation of the Ministry of Works and Warner was the minister at the time.”
Asked about the perception that Cabinet was complicit in the situation, Moonilal said: “He’s portraying himself as a corruption buster as if ministers of Government and their families benefit so much and he is denying the fact that his entire family... I don’t know any member of his family who may not have benefitted in some way. “We have no difficulty renting a building to Mr Warner’s son or giving a house or a family member a Cepep contract as the case may be on his recommendation.
“People are deserving, businessmen are deserving but he plays holier than thou as though the Government is involved in some massive corruption, giving patronage to friends and family, as if his family has not benefitted in some way from the Government, though I am not saying they benefitted illegally.”
Asked about the perception of nepotism that could overshadow the collective PP Cabinet because of the award of the building contract, and if no Cabinet members had voiced concerns about it, Moonilal said: “Mr Warner had been a senior Cabinet minister and very influential minister at that. “His presence brought influence. If he brought a (Cabinet) note and he wanted monies to do covering approval in his ministry... he was influential.
“He was chairman of the party, a senior cabinet minister and one of the advisers to the Prime Minister. “Strangely enough, he was probably the leader of any cabal if there was one... he was an influential figure.” That much? Moonilal was asked. He replied: “Yeah, he was a very influential man when he came with his notes and so on and exerted... in fact he sometimes pressured cabinet ministers.”
Asked if no one voiced concerns about that and nepotism, Moonilal said: “At that time he thought that was fine. He told us that he thought that was fine and he said he had business interests and so on and his family... the issue for us that Mr Warner cannot play holier-than-thou and so hypocritical in that his family members were beneficiaries of government contracts and services.
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