Friday, October 26, 2012

Devant denies refusal to meet cane farmers

File: Devant Maharaj
Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj on Thursday responded to threats by the Cane Producers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (CPATT) to take action for the alleged refusal of the minister to meet with the group.The General Secretary of the Association, Seukeran Tambi, told local media earlier in the week that Maharaj initially agreed to a meeting, but subsequently refused to meet with CPATT members.

They want to meet with the minister to discuss the establishment of an economic free zone for former cane farmers with funds provided by the European Union.

In a media release Maharaj denied that he is refusing to meet with CPATT. He said Tambie cannot force the government into action" by bullying the system and public officials". He said he wants to ensure that there is proper consultation and due process.

Maharaj noted that on September 14 a working committee meeting comprising technical officers of the Ministries of Food Production and Planning and Sustainable Development and the CPATT that the Ministry of Food Production and CPATT agreed to collaborate towards the establishment of a Secretariat to collect data in order to revise their proposal for implementation.

He said there have been concerns about the budget for a nine-month period submitted by CPATT. These concerns include:

  • Nine months salary of Executive Director (without interview) = $375,353 - that is over $40,000 per month
  • Other Executive positions (without interview) = $281,250 – that is over $30,000 per month
  • A budgeted figure of $24,000 was submitted for Website Hosting for a temporary activity, while Website Creation is $100,000
  • Transport is $980,000
Maharaj said the CPATT refused accommodation and furnishings that were offered by the Ministry on properties belonging to Caroni (1975) Limited.
"Notwithstanding all of these irregularities, the Ministry of Food Production and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago remain committed to supporting a project that would, in addition to other benefits, initiate and enhance private sector development programmes to small farmers in order to strengthen small and medium-sized agri-business performance," the minister said.

He added that the ministry has asked CPATT to provide the following:

  • A complete listing of the membership of CPATT
  • Documentation showing transparency and processes used for hiring the staff of the Secretariat
  • An implementation schedule showing how the deliverables of the Secretariat would be achieved
The minister added that the CPATT is expected to continue its collaboration with the EU to access grant funding of 10,000 Euros for technical assistance.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai