Devant: PM rewarded Smith instead of firing him

Former UNC Government Minister Devant Maharaj says the prime minister should have reprimanded and removed Minister Darryl Smith, instead of shifting his portfolio.

Maharaj issued a statement minutes after the announcement of a reshuffle by the Office of the Prime Minister:

"The notification today from the Office of the Prime Minister that the Minister of Sports, Mr. Darryl Smith has been reassigned to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development is nothing short of a naked attempt to hide Minister Smith amidst the raging controversy highlighted by the media regarding serious allegations of his behaviour in public office.

Instead of reprimanding and removing Minister Smith given these allegations the Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley has rewarded and promoted Minister Smith with this very important Ministry.

Given the gravity of allegations made against Minister Smith including the fact that taxpayer’s monies the Prime Minister had a responsibility and duty to remove Minister Smith as a Minister of Government at least pending an investigations of the allegations. This act of musical cheers is nothing but a slap in the face of an already out-raged nation.

In 2010 and 2011 it was the very same Dr. Keith Rowley who went from pillar to post to advise the newly elected government of Kamla Persad Bissessar that MP Jack Warner was not fit to serve as a Minister given the allegations regarding FIFA and conflict of interest. Now Prime Minister Rowley has shown that his politics has a morality of his own.

The Prime Minister has made this reassignment without any deference to the most serious and damning allegations against one of his Ministers. Only yesterday the Sunday Express contained an expose from one of the parties.

Dr. Rowley only a few days ago was shouting at the post-cabinet press conference about his confidence in all his Cabinet Ministers, yet in less than a week the population has learned more about the allegations about Minister Smith to be followed by the reshuffle. Where did the confidence go in less than a week Mr. Prime Minister?

If what is being alleged has any kernel of truth, then the Ministry Housing where the Minister influence over the distribution of houses putting Minister Smith as Minister is a reckless and irresponsible move.

As a former Minister of the Kamla Persad Bissessar administration I can say without any fear of contradiction that if any of my then Cabinet or Ministerial colleagues we accused of anything remotely similar my Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar would have removed them from office in a heartbeat."