Independent Liberal Party (ILP) leader Jack Warner has testified that he turned a blind eye to apparent corrupt practices of his former cabinet colleagues while serving as a government minister.
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Bharath on ministers’ conduct: PP Govt still stable
Trade Investments and Communication Minister Vasant Bharath says there is no instability in the People Partnership Government. He was responding to questions from the media on the resignation of Chandresh Sharma on Monday and the dismissal of Glenn Ramadharsingh last week Tuesday after he was alleged to have engaged in inappropriate conduct on board a Caribbean Airlines flight from Tobago.
The minister was approached after yesterday’s launch of the Banking Process Outsourcing (BPO) Pilot Training Programme at the School of Accounting and Management, St Augustine. He said: “One of the selling factors of T&T whenever I travel abroad is the political and economic stability.
“Investors are interested in the state of the economy and I think that Ministers Larry Howai and Winston Dookeran must be congratulated for the wonderful job they have done in holding the economy together in light of the fact that many of our Caricom neighbours and other partners in the United States and Europe have crumbled over the last five years,” he said. Bharath said it did not affect the inner workings of the UNC as a party.
“That is not for me to determine. I do not think his resignation will affect the running of the party as these are two separate issues of the Government and party. “I think in time Sharma will continue to be an excellent representative for his constituency. He has massive support there,” Bharath said. He said the change of ministers in the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of People and Social Development did not mean that there was a crisis in the Government.
“What it signals is the strength and courage and character of the Prime Minister in doing what she considers to be right, based on the election platform of 2010. “It shows a massive difference on how we handle internal matters that become public as opposed to a previous administration. “Many officers and minsters of that government had committed many infractions,” he said. He described Sharma's resignation as “regrettable.”
“They were both excellent ministers. They have both been colleagues of mine for a long time. But what this does is expose human frailty and teaches us as human beings how quickly we can rise and how quicker than that we can fall,” he added. He said it was the prerogative of the Prime Minister to determine who went into what ministry.
...But Dumas disagrees
Instability in Government is how former head of the public service Reginald Dumas has described the dismissal and resignation of two Cabinet ministers in less than seven days. In an interview yesterday, Dumas said despite claims by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar that she made several trips abroad to attract investment to the country, that objective was being defeated by the several and frequent changes in Cabinet portfolios, which were having a negative impact on the country’s international image.
He said several international organisations were looking at developments in T&T and would prepare reports. The international investor would look at those reports before deciding to invest, he added. Dumas said citizens must be told of the benefits that have accrued to T&T from the PM’s trips to Brazil, India, China and elsewhere. Instability in Government was the enemy of development, Dumas said.
News of Chandresh Sharma’s resignation as tourism minister was published in the Washington Post on Monday. Dumas said the many Cabinet changes gave the impression “people do not know how to conduct themselves properly.” The former ambassador said governance was contributing to “a cheapening of the country’s image,” adding: “I expect more (Cabinet changes) will come.”
Former prime minister Basdeo Panday said the Prime Minister forced Sharma to resign after police started investigating allegations of assault brought by a young businesswoman, Sacha Singh. In a statement on Monday, Sharma said he was intent on “privately clearing his name.” But Panday said Sharma would never resign of his own free will and the Prime Minister would have given him an ultimatum to resign or face dismissal.
He said he was not surprised by the recent events in which two ministers departed the Government within a week, as the Prime Minister made “bad choices” for her Cabinet. Panday said the PM’s major objective was to appoint most of her 29 MPs ministers and there was no consideration as to whether they were “fit or not” for Cabinet.
He said the PP Government was facing defeat in next year’s general election.