Director of the Agricultural Society of T&T Christopher Greenidge received a thunderous applause when he called on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to sack Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj and return his predecessor Vasant Bharath.
At a news conference at the ASTT’s office in Chaguanas on Tuesday, Greenidge described Maharaj as a maverick by withholding necessary funds that would aid the farming community.
The appeal came hours after the new board was installed by president Nawaz Karim who won Sunday’s election at the ASTT’s annual general meeting. There was an anticipation of bacchanal after secretary Gynel Seenath declared the election null and void, but it ...view middle of the document...
However, in an telephone interview yesterday, Maharaj admitted to holding back funds but said it was to protect taxpayers’ dollars.
Maharaj, who is in Berlin, Germany for the just concluded Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, said until matters of financial irregularities in the ASTT are resolved, no funds will be allocated.
“As to the claims of me holding back the money, due to the numerable financial irregularities that have breached the financial regulations of the laws of Trinidad and Tobago, the Ministries’ technical officer’s audit revealed that these irregularities were too glaring to ignore. As a result, until the matters are resolved, taxpayers money will not continue to be wasted,” Maharaj said.
Holding up the rules and ordinance of the ASTT Greenidge said the society was suppose to handle its affairs without Government interference.
However, Maharaj responded: “Then why are they asking for money from Government. If they are separate, I endorse it, let them raise their own money. Once I am the minister, I am in charge of ensuring that taxpayers’ money comply with all the financial regulations and I will go the lawful route.”
Describing the ASTT comments as a “big scheme and racket,” he said they have now joined Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley in calling for the replacement of Government ministers.
Maharaj questioned the installation of board members since he said the election was null and void.
“I have gotten a report via email from the secretary on the elections which indicates that due to the number of irregularities that occurred, it was deemed null and void. I am waiting for a...