AG's Office files Government's first case in court to go after those who stole from the public

Thursday, November 3, 2016 - 10:30

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says the government has filed its first action in the courts to prosecute persons who stole money from the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

He made the comment as he spoke at today's post-Cabinet media conference.

Dr Rowley did not reveal who the subjects of the matter are but said it was filed by the Office of the Attorney General.

He raised the matter in response to a statement by the Leader of the Opposition, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who suggested that the announcement of a zero percent offer in negotiations for public servants from 2017 to 2020, is a declaration of war against hard-working citizens. 

"Yes the government has declared war but the war is not on government employees or the working class. The war we have declared is on corruption and on those people who have made it a career of stealing public money," Dr Rowley said.

He said that at the exact time that Minister of Finance Colm Imbert was speaking on the zero percent position at the conference yesterday, the Office of Attorney General was filing "the first action by the government of Trinidad and Tobago in complaint of persons who have improperly removed money for their own benefits".

"In so far as we are able to we will make every effort to get money that was removed," the prime minister said.

On the topic of zero-percent, the prime minister said he wanted to reaffirm the government's position in recognising collective bargaining.

"We have no intention of throwing collective bargaining out of the window," he said.

He added that whatever interpretations are put to Minister Imbert's statements, the government's policy with regard to collective bargaining is very clear.

He said the zero percent position is just a speculative one, noting that there are no negotiations on the table in which the government has already proposed zero percent.

The prime minister was also asked to comment on Minister Imbert's comment that there has been no rioting with the increases in fuel prices so far, as he proposed to raise prices in April 2017.

"I don't want to walk back for the Minister of Finance. I simply want to confirm that it is not the policy or intention of the government of Trinidad and Tobago to measure the impact of its policies by public disorder in any form. We have confidence that the policies that we are pursuing will be manageable and humane and there will be no need for those types of responses," he said. 

Minister Imbert has been widely criticised by trade union leaders for his statements on Wednesday.