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Company’s letter read into Parliament’s record
Senators who make charges about matters relevant to criminal offences must be prepared to say if they would be referring the issue to the Police Commissioner, Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith has advised. Hamel-Smith made the point in the Senate yesterday just before mandating that a letter from Vidara Enterprises Ltd (VEL) be read into the Parliament’s Hansard record. VEL, owned by Laura Sewlal-Khan and former works minister Franklin Khan, was the subject of allegations last week in the Senate by government senator Subhas Panday. He claimed VEL received a $64 million EMBD contract just before the May 24 election.
VEL subsequently held a media briefing last week outlining the facts of the matter and denying the impression Panday had made in his claims on the issue. VEL then wrote Hamel-Smith seeking that their letter of clarification be be read into the record to clear VEL’s name. At the start of yesterday’s Senate, Hamel-Smith made his statement to members, noting the freedom of speech in the Senate and the need for balance where statements concern those outside of the Senate. The statement from Vidara CEO Laura Sewlal-Khan was then read into Hansard record. The letter emphasised statements Khan had made on the issue last week at a news conference when Panday first made his allegation.
The letter from Vidara noted that it was family-owned business by the Khans’ and that work had been received from several government agencies, including the EMBD and details on the EMBD’s Felicity II contract which VEL received in 2010. As the VEL letter was being read into the record, government senator Panday attempted several times to say some aspects were untrue, and it was incomplete and did not give all the facts. PNM senator Fitzgerald Hinds interrupted Panday just as many times, saying Panday could not interrupt a letter which the Senate President has mandated be read into the Parliament’s Hansard record. Hinds quoted the Standing Order on the issue.
Senate President Hamel-Smith halted Panday, saying he did not think they could allow the reply to be interrupted. Also yesterday, Finance Minister Winston Dookeran said the Board of Inland Revenue would be moving aggressively after May 31, 2011, to pursue delinquent taxpayers. He reiterated measures on the collection of tax revenue after the 2011 budget in which a tax amnesty was given for filing returns. Deadline is May 31, 2011. Dookeran said the BIR would have a new billing system in 2011 and automated tax system. He said the BIR’s aggressive pursuance of delinquent accounts next year would use garnishee orders and levying on delinquent taxpayers to enforce payment.
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