Today members of the Congress of the People (COP) will go to the polls to elect the party's third substantive political leader.
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Heart surgery for minister—PM
Energy Minister Franklin Khan is to undergo a major surgery for a heart condition on Sunday.
This was disclosed by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley during yesterday’s news conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s. Khan’s returned to the country just over one week ago following a brief vacation in Thailand where he fell ill. Since his return he has been attended to by doctors here who have indicated that he must undergo surgery. Rowley called on citizens to wish the minister the very best in the surgery. He said he was confident that he will emerge successful.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert will continue to act until Khan returns to office, the PM said. Khan is also chairman of the People’s National Movement.
On December 22, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young told the media that Khan was recovering from issues related to his heart brought on by a viral infection he contracted before leaving the country to visit Thailand. Young said then that his Cabinet colleague is being treated at this time for the accumulation of fluid in his lungs and shrugged off media reports that Khan suffered a heart attack while on vacation.
On another matter Rowley said the Auditor General should be the one to clarify the issue involving a $28,000 housing allowance being paid to President Anthony Carmona. The matter surfaced recently and was clarified by Carmona who said it was paid under the authority of the Salaries Review Commission. The SRC has since distanced itself from that claim.
Questioned on the matter, yesterday, Rowley said: “It appears to us that there is a requirement for the Auditor General to allay the public concerns with respect to the propriety of that action.” He said: “And if it is as it appears that public funds were improperly received by any officer, I am not identifying any public officer...as from time to time matters of this nature will come to the Cabinet.”
The PM continued: “It usually comes after the Auditor General looks at the situation and makes a determination as to whether the public funds have been properly received by the officer and I think that is a good enough place for this matter to be properly rectified.”
Rowley also announced one of the decisions taken during the two-day Cabinet retreat was for criminologist Professor Ramesh Deosaran to head a manpower audit committee for the Police Service. That committee will provide the required data to ensure the Police Service can be better organised to more effectively fight crime in the country.
Rowley said under the existing arrangement crime detection and crime suppression was unsatisfactory. The Deosaran Committee has to submit its report to the Cabinet by March 31.
Other members of the committee includes former Permanent Secretary Jacqueline Wilson and senior members of the Police Service. Rowley said British officials are also expected to provide assistance in that process.