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AG presses EBC to hire adviser

By Richard Lord, Express

Noting that a general election “is likely to take place within a short time” and knocking its “arrogant aloofness”, Attorney General Glenda Morean is pressing the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) to hire, on contract, a strategic management adviser.

This was one of the major recommendations of the Government-appointed Lennox Deyalsingh Commission of Enquiry into the EBC.

The EBC has objected to the recommendations and has sought judicial review. The matter is now before the courts.

In an August 15 letter to EBC chairman Oswald Wilson, Morean said the decision to employ a strategic management adviser was a policy decision of the Cabinet. She added: “The fact that you (EBC) have filed for judicial review does not nullify or stay this policy decision of the Government.”

Morean added: “Accordingly it is incumbent on the Government to proceed to implement as far as is possible the (Commission of Enquiry) recommendations, especially in the light of the fact that a general election is likely to take place within a short time.”

Contacted for comment last night, Wilson said he was “not worried by the letter” but that the commissioners have not yet met to discuss this latest development.

He added: “I don’t know what they (Government) are trying.”

In her letter to Wilson, which was copied to Prime Minister Patrick Manning and President Arthur NR Robinson, the AG said the evidence of Chief Elections Officer Howard Cayenne before the Commission of Enquiry suggested the need for more staff at the EBC.

She added that in order to address this problem Cabinet agreed to the employment of the strategic management adviser.

But the EBC has been quietly resisting the appointment, arguing there was no need for such assistance.

Morean told Wilson that six weeks have since passed and the process has not advanced because of the EBC’s “persistence in maintaining an attitude of arrogant aloofness...”

Morean’s letter sought to clarify many of the concerns of the EBC over the proposed employment of the strategic management officer.

Morean stressed: “So long as you and the other Commissioners continue in office you owe a duty to the population to put aside your personal view expressed in your letter (to PM Manning on July 8, 2002) and set about carrying out your functions in an efficient and effective manner, so that when an election date is announced the Commission will be ready this time.”

Morean accused the EBC of adopting “an adversarial attitude towards the Government, and, by extension the people of Trinidad and Tobago”.

She also noted that while the EBC was constituted as an independent body, the government had an obligation, and a duty, to provide staff for the EBC.

In a letter to Cayenne dated July 2 and written by Zaida Rajnaught, Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister, it was stated that the new adviser was required to “assist you (Cayenne) in conducting a comprehensive organisational diagnosis (and) to develop a Strategic Business and Action Plan”.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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