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posted 20 Feb 2015, 06:13 by Gerry Kangalee

On February 13th 2015, Joseph Remy , President of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs (FITUN) wrote to Minister of Finance, Larry Howai.

 Mr. Howai, in response to a request from your Ministry, FITUN submitted a letter to the Permanent Secretary of your Ministry on January 20, 2015 advising that the Federation had submitted the names of Ms. Ann Chan Chow and Mr. John Boiselle as its nominees to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Insurance Board of Trinidad and Tobago, NIB. We also advised that their alternates would be Mr. Clyde Elder and Mr. Chandrasain Ramsingh respectively.

 Mr. Minister, both Ms. Chan Chow and Mr. Boiselle informed the Executive of the Federation that they were duly re-appointed to the Board of Directors effective February 01, 2015 for a period of two (2) years. They forwarded a copy of their appointment letters signed by you in your capacity as Minister of Finance and the Economy which were referenced as FE (1):2/ 12/2 dated February 9, 2015. 

The both representatives thereafter communicated to FITUN via letters dated February 11, 2015 advising that they were reappointed to the Board of the National Insurance Board of Trinidad and Tobago and that they were gratified to make representation on behalf of the Federation. 

Mr. Howai, FITUN was advised by Ms. Chan Chow that she was invited to a Special Board Meeting of the NIB on February 11, 2015 at the NIBTT’s Board Room at NIBTT’s Head Office, Cipriani Boulevard, Port-of Spain which commenced at 3.00 p.m. She further advised the Executive of the Federation that the main topics discussed at that Special Board Meeting were the process for the appointment to the Board of Directors of NIPDEC and the formalizing of the position that Labour was now to assume the Deputy-Chairmanship of the Board of Directors of NIB for this term. She advised that discussions on the person to represent Labour in that position were deferred to the next scheduled Statutory Meeting carded for February 25, 2015.

Mr. Howai to our consternation and in a most unprofessional manner, both representatives of FITUN were called by the Chairman of the Board on February 13, 2015 advising that he needed to speak to them urgently. Ms. Chan Chow reported that in a meeting she held with the Chairman on the said morning, she was advised that she would have to either resign from the Board or have her appointment revoked since there was a mistake made with her appointment.

She indicated to the Chairman that her appointment was the subject of an agreement between the Minister of Finance and the Economy and the Federation and as such she cannot make any decision on this request. Mr. Boiselle advised us that the Chairman communicated to him via a telephone conversation on the morning of February 13, 2015, that his appointment would be revoked since there was a mistake made relative to his appointment and went on to ask him if he had any questions.

Mr. Boiselle advised the Chairman that any question that he has would be directed to the Minister and that he felt that the Minister should communicate with FITUN since it was the Federation that nominated him to serve on the Board.

Mr. Minister, this is one of the most distasteful developments that we have encountered during the tenure of this Govemment and for that matter, under any Government in Trinidad and Tobago. This action reeks of naked political victimization and nepotism. It is quite inconceivable that a Government that has inflicted so much humiliation and mis-steps upon the nation can once again engage in such a horrible act. If it is really a mistake, then it is a pathetic display of gross incompetence on the part of the Ministry since both appointment letters were duly signed by your good self. If in turn, it was not a mistake, then you and your Ministry can be accused of engaging in nepotism and naked victimization against the Federation.

We wish to ask if this revocation has anything to do with the fact that a Labour Representative was supposed to assume the position of Deputy Chairman for this term and that the preferred person was Mr. Boiselle a FITUN Representative.? Is it that there was collusion between other sectors of the Labour Movement to deny the Federation the opportunity to serve in that capacity?

Or is it that there is some collusion between the Ministry and other sectors of Labour to ensure that persons of a certain political persuasion are once again given the opportunity to feed at the State Trough. It is rather curious that both representatives have informed us that they were told by the Chairman that they would be retained on the subsidiary Boards of NIPDEC and TTMF.

This is very questionable since the appointments to those subsidiary Boards were never the subject of any discussions and or agreement between the Federation and your Ministry. This raises questions as to why the focus is solely on revoking the appointments to the Board of NIB. We wonder if the vanguard, watchdog and strong independent positions adopted by the Federation with respect to national issues have anything to do with this.

Mr. Minister, FITUN would like to make it clear that we are not interested in securing largesse from any Government. We are not about "eating ah food" as is so brazenly demonstrated by other so called defenders of the working class. We are deeply concerned about the plight of workers and ordinary citizens of our country and have committed to stand firm in their defence.

In this light, we feel that the National Insurance Board of Trinidad and Tobago must not be tainted by such petty political machinations and shenanigans. The NIB was created to provide a social security net for the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and as such, as defenders of citizens’ rights, we feel compelled to ensure that the Board carries out this mandate in the best interest of the said citizens. We would not sit idly by and allow any Government to play political football and use the NIB as a slush fund for their political survival.

In the circumstances, FITUN calls on you to clear the air on the alleged revocation of the appointment of its Representatives on the Board of the National Insurance Scheme of Trinidad and Tobago. FITUN demands an unconditional apology from your Ministry to the representatives and the Federation and a statement from you distancing yourself from such a dastardly act. Anything short of this will be construed as complicity on your part to victimize a legitimate Working Class Institution from making fair and transparent representation for and on behalf of citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. We commit to stand firm in defence of our Independence.

FITUN would like to remind you that "Birds Fly High, but must come back dawn to die”