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Secretaries Answers to Questions


37. The Minority   Councillor asked the Secretary of Community Development, Youth Development   and Sport the following question:

“Given the assurance given by both the Chief Secretary and   yourself with respect to persons who would have been terminated from the   CEPEP programme, can the Secretary confirm the following:

(a) How many persons were   re-engaged by the programme?

(b) How many persons who   were not re-engaged, were redeployed in other divisions?

(c) How many persons to   date have neither been re-engaged nor re-deployed?”

Thank you, Madam   Presiding Officer, and good morning to all my Colleagues.

The strictest   answer to part (a) of the question, is zero (0), but I will elaborate a   little further.

The answer is the   same for (b).

The answer for (c) would be thirty-seven (37) persons.

The way the question was posed, Madam Presiding Officer, I will elaborate a bit, with your leave.

Sorry, I did not hear what you said.

What I was saying, is that the strictest answer to the way   the question was posed as I gave the answer: part (a) - zero (0); part (b) -   zero (0) and part (c) - thirty-seven (37). However, I am willing to elaborate   a little bit.

The initial administrative set up of the programme had   some fifty-nine (59) administrative positions and we felt (as we looked at   the programme; we looked at the restructuring and so on) that it was   administratively overweight, so we set that up to now have twenty-four (24)   positions. We had over six hundred plus (600+) persons applying and after shortlisting   and so on. We were looking for three (3) what we call ‘Project Support   Officers.’ The interview was on the September 21st, 2022 and three   (3) persons were recommended. One (1) declined and two (2) persons are being   considered for the positions. We still need to find one (1) more officer in   that capacity.

     As it relates to the District Officers, we needed fifteen (15) persons.There were seventeen (17) persons who were short listed.   Out of the shortlisted group, there were seventeen (17) persons who   were interviewed on the’ September 19th, and unfortunately, only   five (5) persons were able to meet the qualifications. They just did not meet   the qualifications so it meant that we have to go back.

The point I am making, Madam Presiding Officer, is that   the process is incomplete and we are doing a deeper dive to find officers. We   are making some adjustments to some of the criteria, so that we can be able   to get the recruitment as we would like. We anticipate, however, that by the   end of January, this process should be completed.

Minority Councillor.

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer - a follow up.

Given that no one was re-engaged and no one was   redeployed, the commitment was given to these persons that were given letters   of termination - I think this was around May, sometime there - that they   would be re­deployed. They were asked to submit applications and if they were not successful in that process, a commitment was given for   redeployment. I think a number of those persons still have hope that   redeployment would occur.

      The question is: When can persons who were given letters,   be expected to be redeployed?

Secretary   Baynes.

It would be presumptuous to think that when we say re­deployment, that it means   - because persons would have to be qualified for the various positions that   would be made available and so on, even for the re­deployment process. I hope the thinking is not - because what we have found, Madam Presiding Officer, is   that several of the persons who were employed in those positions, do not have   the qualification for the position. What we discovered, is that some of them   even resemble ‘political puts’, as a matter of facts


    The programme itself has a tremendous number of anomalies   and we are trying to regularise that. As per the qualification, even with the   redeployment and so on - and that is as the skill sets are a requisite for   the particular positions that will be made available, and to pronounce a time   line on that, will be unreasonable and I certainly cannot do that. However, I   can say that we expect that the fixing of the administrative part of the   programme be done by the end of January. That is what we are working towards.

Minority Councillor.

     Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer. I am actually looking   at a news article that quoted the Member and at the time when this was   occurring, there was no caveat as to redeployment. It says:

“Persons at the top are being advised to reapply for positions.Unsuccessful applicants will be redeployed.” 

     Madam Presiding Officer, the hope that is given to persons   that they will be redeployed, and now that...

Can I have your question, please?

Madam Presiding Officer, is the Secretary indicating that   persons will not be redeployed?

No, Ma’am. The question that she asked - my answer to that   is, no.

Minority Councillor.

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer. I just want to confirm   that the hope again, that the Member gave to persons there, is it that he has   decided to renege on his word; not to keep his word that persons will be   redeployed, because I think the public needs to be clear that the words and   the trust placed in the words of the Member - we cannot trust the words   because it is clear here from the article, that person ...

Can I have the question please, Minority Councillor?

I want to confirm that the Secretary is not going to keep his word, as indicated in this article.

Assemblyman Baynes, even though I felt that that question   was answered...

The thing is - I do not know first of all, of any article   from any newspaper, that is infallible. I cannot even remember, so that   aside... [Crosstalk]

Minority Councillor, allow him to answer. He is answering   the question, please allow him to so do.

What I am saying is, in my responses, Madam Presiding   Officer, the fact that we have not yet completed the recruitment for the programme; the fact that we have gone back and we have   decided to adjust some of the criteria, simply means - because these are   persons who redeployed or to get persons reassigned rather, as long as   they have the qualification. Thank you.

Thank you.

Minority Councillor, next question.

37. The Minority   Councillor asked the Secretary of Tourism, Culture,

Antiquities and Transportation:

“Given that the Secretary, at the last Sitting, confirmed   having paid $180,495.00 for costumes from Trinidad to be showcased at the   Tobago Carnival, can the Secretary please indicate the following:

a. Who supplied the   costumes, and

b. Have the suppliers of   the costumes been paid?”

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer. Costumes were supplied by a mixture of individuals and one (1) company. The company’s name is "Entourage Productions'.

The individuals were Joel John, Laura Rampersad, Marlon   Rampersad and Shrina Brizan. The actual cost of the costumes came up to one   hundred and thirty-two thousand, three hundred dollars ($132,300). Have the   suppliers of the costumes been paid? Yes, they have been paid. Thank you.

Can the Secretary indicate what process was used to engage the persons supplying the costumes?

Madam Presiding Officer, The Carnival Committee   chairperson reached out to the Body that is responsible for mass in Trinidad,   which is the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Bands Association (I believe that   is their name), asking for the possibility of having the National Kings and   Queens who participated in the competition earlier this year that took place   in Trinidad in February - to find out if it was possible that any of these persons   would be available for the Carnival to parade. That was the process that was  employed.

     They indicated to us, that usually what happens after the Carnival, is that because of the size of these costumes, most of them are  dismantled because they do not have storage space and all of these things, to   take up these costumes and they begin construction of their new costumes for   the following Carnival almost immediately after the last one. However, they   reached out to all of the persons who participated in that competition and   they got feedback from eight (8) persons who indicated that they still had   their costumes intact and that they would be available to parade.

Minority Councillor.

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer.

     Further follow up. The Secretary would have indicated that   the suppliers were paid for the costumes. Madam Presiding Officer, we would   have heard a number of cries in the public space from creative entertainers.   The Minority is also aware that some service providers inclusive of (Inaudible)  have not been paid for the October Carnival.

   Madam Presiding Officer, can the Secretary indicate in light of payments to these persons, when persons still being owed for the   Tobago Carnival, will be paid?

Madam Presiding Officer, these payments are currently   being processed. The accounts department of the Tobago Festivals Commission   Limited has been extremely overworked because they have a number of previous   events to pay out for. You would understand that we have a very small   accounts department, very much unlike the divisions, and these persons have   gone above and beyond the call of duty in terms of trying to get out   payments. So, the undertaking here, is to try to get as many payments out   this week and during the course of next week.

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer. What we are concerned   with. Madam Presiding Officer, is why are our Tobago creatives not being paid   on time? We have a case in point where persons are still complaining. You   hear the cries on social media of non-payment for October Carnival. The Secretary would have   spoken about previous outstanding bills that they may have had. How is it   that these persons have not been paid, yet other persons, particularly the   persons supplying the costumes, have been paid? What is the process for   (meaning the priority of) payment? What is the priority? Why is one section   paid in advance of the others? What is the priority and how is it that that   is occurring, Madam Presiding Officer?

11:30 P.M

Councillor Burris.

Madam Presiding Officer, the Tobago Festivals Commission   is a company that has a Board of Directors and a Chief Executive Officer.

I, as Secretary, am unable to answer whether there is a   system that is utilized to prioritize payments. They got a directive from the   Executive Council to carry out an activity and that directive was given.

They were given initial releases to be able to secure   whatever was critical to get that activity carried out. Subsequent to that,   once there are bills outstanding, they would request additional releases if   needed, to carry out additional payments.

All of these things have been done. The Tobago Festivals   Commission Limited (TFCL) got an initial release to secure critical elements   to ensure that the Tobago Carnival came off successfully.

They also requested additional releases to take up the   balance of the payments. Those releases have been sent to them and they are   in the process of processing payments at this time.

12th Plenary Sitting Tobago House of Assembly 2021 - 2025 Session


22 December 2022
Supplemental question to the main question :
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