NATUC demands Government's full disclosure on CL Financial bailout

Thursday, January 28, 2016 - 00:00

The National Trade Union Centre is today calling for full disclosure on the bailout of CL Financial. 

NATUC is condemning a decision by the Minister of Finance to continue an appeal against a court ruling for full disclosure to be made.

The following is the statement from NATUC:

"The National Trade Union Centre adds it voice to the calls on the government to make public the details of the CL Financial bailout.

In July 2015, Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh ruled that the Minister of Finance and the Economy was obliged to provide information relating to CL Financial’s financial statements. It is of grave concern that the former Minister of Finance, Mr. Larry Howai chose to appeal this High Court ruling.

The National Trade Union Centre believes that the action by Mr. Howai to appeal this ruling denies citizens of Trinidad and Tobago their basic right of access to information according to the Freedom of Information Act. Further to this, it is more troubling that the present Minister of Finance, Mr. Colm Imbert has chosen to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor and continue with the aforementioned appeal against the full disclosure of the CLICO bailout.

It in this regard that the National Trade Union Centre wishes to categorically condemn this action as it is in direct contradiction of the commitment given by this administration, that members of parliament are to act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Further, the citizens of this country have a right to full disclosure on the details of the bailout that will cost taxpayers in excess of $20B.

In retrospect, citizens were told in 2009 that the bailout would cost taxpayers some $5B. By April 3, 2012, then Finance Minister, Winston Dookeran confirmed that $12B had been spent. By April, 2014 Finance Minister, Larry Howai told the Parliament that the cost to the country was some $20B. As such, clarity on this matter is of critical importance at this time.

NATUC demands nothing less than the application of the principles of accountability, transparency and good governance as was promised by the PNM in the run-up to their general election campaign. Consequentially, we urge the Government to honour the High Court ruling and release the details on the CL Financial bailout forthwith especially in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.

These details include:

1. The audited accounts for CL Financial 2008 2014 or any interim, preliminary, draft or unaudited statements of CL Financial Limited;

2. The full details of the official briefing to Independent Senators in September 2011 preparatory to the debate on The Central Bank (Amendment) Bill and The Purchase of Rights and Validation Bill 2011 (to include copies of all slides. Power-Point slides, tables, charts, schedules, text or other information which comprised that presentation)

3. And, details of the funds paid in the bailout to include — a full list of creditors as at the commencement date of the bailout, the names of the EFPA holders; the dates of the repayments of the EFPA holders, together with details of the amounts received; the identities of all those who have received public money in the conduct of this exercise, together with details of the amounts received.

We therefore is calling on the Minister of Finance to, as we would say in local parlance to “to put their money where their mouth is” and withdraw his Ministry’s Appeal against the above High Court order and allow citizen’s the right to accountability and transparency as promised by his administration. The government must demonstrate to the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago that democracy is true and real. They cannot only speak about democracy, they have to practice it and it has to be seen to be carried out."