Monday 19 February, 2018

MP questions appointment of Stuart Young's father to committee

Richard Young (left). Photo Courtesy Trinidad Guardian; Stuart Young (Right), Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Richard Young (left). Photo Courtesy Trinidad Guardian; Stuart Young (Right), Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Oropouche West MP Vidia Gayadeen-Gopeesingh has raised concerns about possible nepotism within the PNM government, with the appointment of Stuart Young’s father, Richard Young, as a member of the Implementation Committee.

The elder Young is part of a five-member committee tasked with assessing businesses that are interested in large and medium scale projects to stimulate Trinidad and Tobago’s economy.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Gayadeen-Gopeesingh said the Government must come clean about his (Richard’s) appointment especially since the PNM’s 2015 manifesto said, MPs should avoid placing themselves under any obligation to the people that might influence them in their work in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves their family or their friends.

“In light of these assertions, the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago would like to know why Mr. Richard Young was appointed to this committee since it poses a major conflict of interest. Did Minster Young recuse himself from the selection process when the committee members were screened and selected?”

The Oropouche West MP also questioned whether Minister Young would be removed as the implementation committee will be reporting to the Office of the Prime Minister.

She said there would be a PNM outcry if the Opposition had done the same and appointed a relative of a sitting member of parliament.

The Opposition MP further called for more information as it relates to the establishment of the committee.

“The government needs to tell us the financial implications of setting up this committee. Are the members offering their expertise pro bono? If the committee members are to receive stipends; one would think during these dismal times in which we need to be careful in our spending the PNM would seek to utilize the experts at the ministries of Finance, Trade and Industry and Planning who are already on the pay roll.”

The Oropouche West MP also raised issue with the head of the committee, Christian Mouttet, who was the sole investigator in the “ferry gate” fiasco.

“The citizenry would like to know if Mr Mouttet is now the new face of the government. Does his expertise surpass that of all public servants?” 

She said the establishment of this committee has also been the subject of criticism by members of the public and private sector. She said President of the American Chamber of Industry and Commerce Mitchell de Silva said the public needs to know the intent or the terms of reference of the committee to understand what it hopes to achieve.

The Opposition MP also slammed Finance Minister Colm Imbert who, when asked about (Richard) Young’s heavy involvement in public affairs, said he was satisfied that he has the expertise, competence and qualifications to assist the Government in terms of its relationship with the private sector and getting things done.

Richard Young was the former managing director of Scotiabank.

In 2013, he was appointed the chairman of the Economic Development Board (EDB) by the People's Partnership Government.