Much has been made of the “non tax” revenue raised in fiscal 2016. As always, one has to drill deep behind any data to get the true picture.
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National Security Minister Gary Griffith is maintaining a hard line with the current investigation into the multi-million dollar drug bust in the US in December. Griffith, in a telephone interview yesterday, dismissed any speculation that he would cover up the findings in order to protect the names of those under investigation. “I swore an oath to this country and let me tell you this, if it turns out to be someone in Government, someone in Opposition, even if it’s one of my own family members, they are going down for this,” Griffith said.
He stood by previous statements that no Government or Opposition official needed to be kept abreast of the unfolding drug investigation, but reiterated that the lack of communication did not stem from a lack of trust. “We still have that banana republic thinking that Government needs to be involved in everything, and that is not so. There should be no politics in national security. There is no place for it, because national security is for the whole country,” he said.
Griffith said he will always “put country first” and do whatever it takes to ensure T&T is no longer a major transshipment point for drugs. There has been speculation that two events—the reported break-in at the Citrus Growers Association in Laventille, and the fires at the Beetham landfill—were distractions to divert the media and the population’s attention away from the ongoing drug investigation. Griffith denied this: “That is the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard. That is totally irrational,” Griffith said.
“I have never worked on hearsay and ol’ talk,” he said. Griffith said although investigations into those two issues continue, there is “no evidence” that anyone from the Opposition, Government or residents of Beetham had a hand in the incidents. “I will continue working with the relevant ministers to resolve those two matters,” he said. He said he did not need to distract from the drug bust, as it was a “good thing,” explaining:
“The more drugs seized via using our country as a transshipment point, then the better for us. This was not happening before; less hits meant ... greater ... opportunity for the drug cartel, as they saw us as an easy target,” he said. Taking on the Opposition and those public officials who were only seeing “this glass as half-empty,” Griffith said, “This glass of opportunity should be seen as half-full, because the more drugs seized, then the greater the deterrent and the greater the deflection of the drug trade to more lucrative and softer targets.
“My immediate priority in this illegal drug trade is to stop it in our country. The only persons who should be concerned over recent major drug busts are criminals themselves, as it is their trade that is being stifled here,” he said.