The 2017 budget was presented on Friday 30th September 2016, with the known decline in State revenue having the expected impact. As shown in the graph and table, the Estimate of Revenue is now down to $47.4 Billion, which is itself a doubtful figure as I will show, with Estimated Expenditure at $53.475 Billion. That […]
The previous article prompted a series of extremely interesting responses, so I will continue this examination of the State Controlled Agencies. That phrase includes State-owned Enterprises (such as UDECOTT, Caribbean Airlines and EFCL) and Statutory Agencies (like WASA, TTEC, CDA, PATT and HDC).Some sharp objections were made to my comparison of the relation between the State, the Government and Citizens to a Company, its Board of Directors and its shareholders. I maintain that this is a valid comparison for us to reflect on the proper roles and responsibilities of the various public officials, but perhaps more importantly, the responsibilities of us citizens.
The recent controversy over the dismissal of Dennise Demming as Chair of the Tourism Development Company (TDC) has sparked yet another round of debate on the role and operation of State-owned-Enterprises (SoEs).
Some of the issues which have arisen are –
What is the purpose of these SoEs?
How do the Boards of these SoEs get appointed?
Are Board Directors of SoEs required to follow directions from the line Minister?
Do Board Directors of SoEs have the right to get involved in managerial decisions such as hiring of staff and awarding of contracts?
Do Ministers and Permanent Secretaries have the right to meet with or direct staff of the SoEs without the input of the Board of Directors?
Given the recent Appeal Court decision in the UTT case, what is the legal liability of Board Directors of SoEs?
This is an open call for the Administration of our Parliament to take the lead in publishing all the details of Parliamentarian’s expenses for the past ten years – 1st January 2005 to 31st December 2015.
Recent revelations have sparked a national discussion on the use and abuse of MPs’ entitlement to Public Money for the operation of Constituency Offices. We are now having a vital and long overdue national conversation about the proper use of MPs’ benefits and the need for the public to scrutinize this aspect of public money expenditure.
Our Parliament provides freely-available information with great ease of access at www.ttparliament.org and in its various online broadcasts, as well as GISL and 105.5FM.
The details of the Constituency Office expenses of MP Marlene McDonald were disclosed to Fixin T&T under the Freedom of Information Act. That precedent having been established, it is difficult to imagine that any tenable objection could be raised to the publication of the same information for the other 40 MPs.
We are therefore proposing to the Administration of the Parliament that they take this historic opportunity to lead the transition from the current ‘Freedom of Information’ paradigm, in which citizens have to apply for information, to the modern, more proactive, approach of ‘OPEN DATA’ in which public information of interest is routinely published on a voluntary basis online, in searchable databases.
We also suggest that the Legislature consider the lessons from the UK Parliament (often considered to be the our ‘Mother’ Institution), which, as a response to the parliamentary expenses scandal in 2009, announced the creation of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), intended to manage Members’ expenses at “arm’s length” from the House.
Our Parliament is our highest Court and it is important that it take the lead in setting higher standards of Transparency, Accountability and Good Governance. These challenging times call for non-partisan and decisive leadership: we expect no less from our Parliament.
Specifically, our call is for the details of MPs expenses to be published for the ten year period – January 1st 2001 to December 31st 2015, with quarterly updates as necessary. The expenses which should be disclosed are –
Details of annual allocation of Public Money to be spent via Parliament for operation of Constituency Offices;
Guidelines on the use of those sums of Public Money, together with changes in those guidelines, with updates to show when these were in force;
In relation to each MP’s office/s, names of employees to include period of employment, position held, salary etc;
In relation to each MP and their office/s, details of the non-salary expenses claimed and paid, to include utilities (TTEC, TSTT, WASA etc) furniture/equipment rental etc;
In relation to each MP’s office/s, details of the rentals paid, lease/tenancy agreement;
Annual Financial Reports submitted to the Parliament by MPs and the consolidated Financial Reports to the Parliament.
Many of the positive steps taken by our Parliament in relation to disclosure of information were supported by former Speaker of the House, Wade Mark. We expect this to be continued by the current Speaker of the House, Bridgid Annisette-George.
This is the ‘On the Couch’ session at the T&T Transparency Institute’s 2016 Anti-Corruption Conference held on Tuesday 8th March 2016. The moderator was Reginald Armour SC, President of the Law Association; Michael Harris, Tapia Member and Express columnist; Mark Regis of Shell Trinidad; and Afra Raymond, managing director of Raymond & Pierre Ltd and […]
This is my formal submission on these important proposals, which are intended to give protection to persons reporting wrongdoing in public or private bodies. Most fraud and white-collar crime is reported by ‘tips’, so the effective tool has to be ‘If you see something, say something’. We also need to push for more effective investigations and prosecutions, but first we need high-quality information.’
…A small State such as Trinidad & Tobago must accord a very high priority to the judicious management and utilization of its land resources or perish. All elements of land policy must be designed to ensure that these finite resources are efficiently utilized and husbanded in such a manner as to serve the long term interests of the national community…”
Today many Barbadians will follow the 2015 General Elections in Trinidad for many reasons. In recent years we have been the target by Trinidad of heavy investment in the financial and retail sectors. […] Continue reading →
The CL Financial bailout was a steal of a deal for the owners of that troubled company. After all, the wealthiest man in the Caribbean was able to obtain an interest-free loan exceeding $25 Billion in Public Money at a time when no one else would lend him. […] Continue reading →
Submitted by the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy
The Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID)
NEW YORK: The New York Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) has expressed concern about discrimination, based on national origin, by the West Indian Day Carnival Association (WIADCA). WIADCA’s board of directors is almost exclusively Trinidadian. […] Continue reading →