Informant threatened

The informer who supplied former People’s Partnership minister Devant Maharaj with a voice recording which allegedly features a conversation between Minister of Rural Development and Local Government Kazim Hosein and colleague La Brea MP Nicole Ollivierre, over the award of Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (Cepep) contracts, has gone into hiding after allegedly being threatened for leaking the clip.

On Tuesday, Maharaj forwarded a copy of the voice recording to the media attached with photographs of the two high-ranking Government officials, which later surfaced on social media. Maharaj also called on acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams to launch an investigation into the recording.

In the recording, a male voice is heard saying, “Them Cepep contractors in the pool, you want any of them again?”

A female voice is heard answering no, while the male warns, “Dr …tell me to talk to all yuh directly…don’t send no emails and no text. Whatever email you have delete eh.”

Maharaj said if the contents of the recording are true it suggests a collusion and conspiracy to award contracts to individuals in circumstances where there was also an attempt to delete documentation surrounding those awards.

In response, however, Hosein slammed Maharaj for attempting to embroil him in a possible scandal over the award of Cepep contracts.

In his defence, Hosein said he speaks with all MPs, as well as Opposition, on many matters, including Cepep and he directs them to contact the board of the company.

“I remain dedicated to serving my country in this office and I will not let untrue narratives prevent me from fulfilling this mandate,” Hosein added in a statement on the matter on Tuesday.

United National Congress MP Roodal Moonilal also confirmed that MPs recommending people in their constituencies for Cepep contracts was nothing new and that this was also the practice under the People’s partnership government and over the years.

Yesterday, Maharaj said shortly after the recording surfaced on social media the informer was threatened.

“He (informer) called me and say somebody big in the PNM threatened him. He refused to say who because they gave him strict instructions not to share any information with me. The man is scared for his life.

He is very concerned. He has gone into hiding.”

The informer, Maharaj said, is a former government employee.

Adding the informer has little confidence in the police, Maharaj said while Hosein sent out a release on the issue on Tuesday, he was yet to answer the direct questions about whether the voices in the alleged recording were those of his and Ollivierre’s.

“I just hope this matter is put to rest. Come out and say if the voice recording is yours or not,” he said.

When the T&T Guardian attempted to contact Hosein yesterday for a response to the latest allegation surrounding the issue, calls to his phone went unanswered. However, in response to text messages he replied: “I gave my simple response yesterday. Thank you.”

Meanwhile, Communication Minister Stuart Young yesterday defended his colleagues.

Saying he’d noted that even UNC MP Roodal Moonilal had said consultation between Parliamentarians on potential Cepep contractors was nothing unusual, Young said “And I understand this to be so also. I don’t think there’s anything untoward with the Minister having a conversation with an MP on this.”

Young, however, couldn’t verify if it was Hosein on the video Maharaj had queried. But Young was quick to point out that very shortly, the public will be hearing some “stuff” on UNC activist Maharaj which he’ll need to hunker down and deal with himself.

New TTT launch Aug 31

Communication Minister Stuart Young says the new Trinidad and Tobago Television Ltd (TTT) will be launched on August 30 with new programming.

He noted the previous TTT was launched live on August 31, 1962— Independence Day.

Changes are currently being made at the station’s Maraval Road location where its current incarnation—CNMG—is housed. The CNMG sign is being taken down in preparation for the change.

Young said changes are being made to the broadcast content of what will soon be the new TTT. After meeting with CNMG’s board and management yesterday, he said apart from a new logo, he wanted new programming and had some “interesting ideas for the news” going forward.

He also said he’d made presentations to Cabinet last week on the issue of fast ferries from Australia and Cabinet would take some decisions “very shortly” and announcements would be made on the future of fast ferries.

Young made the announcements after yesterday’s official swearing-in of the Port-of-Spain Spain Corporation’s Belmont East councillor Nicole Young.

Young warned his namesake that she had “some shoes” to fill following late Belmont East Councillor Darryl Rajpaul, but he said he was sure she’d do so in her own unique way.

Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Gail Alexander)

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