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MP wants answers on CAL overdraft today

Friday, March 14, 2014

Has an overdraft facility been established for Caribbean Airlines (CAL) at First Citizens? That is the question being posed by Opposition MP Alicia Hospedales to Finance and the Economy Minister Larry Howai in the House of Representatives today. Hospedales says if the answer is yes, she wants Howai to say when was it set up and who was the officer who authorised it by signing on behalf of CAL. This is expected to be the latest twist in the dismissal of Shiva Ramnarine, former chief financial officer of the airline. Ramnarine is claiming he was wrongfully dismissed while on probation last August.


He wants Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to intervene and resolve the matter of his dismissal. Ramnarine, contacted for comment, said he called on Persad-Bissessar for her direct assistance in an e-mail in January after a conversation with her in December. A copy of the e-mail was obtained by the T&T Guardian. He also said Trade, Industry and Investment Minister Vasant Bharath and Howai were informed of the matter. Ramnarine said he spoke with Persad-Bissessar on December 7, 2013 and subsequently sent her an e-mail, which said in part: “I am requesting your involvement working with Minister Bharath to resolve this matter in a timely manner.”  

Ramnarine said he was still awaiting a response. Bharath, when contacted for comment, said, “The CAL board was fully briefed on the matter and questions should be put to the line minister Larry Howai.” Several efforts to contact Howai for comment were unsuccessful. Ramnarine has sought the assistance of others, including Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner, Arouca/Maloney MP Alicia Hospedales and Opposition Senator Camille Robinson-Regis. The matter is expected to be raised in Parliament. Warner said yesterday Ramnarine was “robbed and treated unfairly by the Government.”

In a statement he issued on November 26, 2013, Warner said he had told Howai by telephone six days earlier that Ramnarine had been wrongly dismissed and Ramnarine had testimonials refuting accusations against him. Warner said he also raised the issue of the behaviour of a senior CAL official, her alleged direct involvement in Ramnarine's dismissal and the alleged lack of competence of acting CEO Jagmohan Singh to properly assess Ramnarine's performance. The former national security minister also said that at a meeting with Howai on September 23 at his Financial Complex office, Port-of-Spain, Howai said “the probation report on Ramnarine was not right.”