Integrity Commission clears Education Minister

The Honourable Anthony Garcia, Minister of Education has been cleared by the Integrity Commission of Trinidad & Tobago of a compliant of preferential treatment to Sunboom Contractors Limited in respect of payments made to that company by the Education Facilities Company Ltd. The false accusation was made by former Education Minister and Member of Parliament for Caroni East Dr. Tim Gopeesingh. 

In a letter dated May 12th, 2017, addressed to the Integrity Commission Dr. Tim Gopeesingh, lodged the compliant on the grounds that Minister Garcia committed breaches of Sections 24 and 32 of the Integrity in Public Life Act in “singling out” the contractor for payment over others with the Education Facilities Company Limited (EFCL), which hired the contractor, is said to owe an outstanding $600 million to other EFCL contractors.

Upon completion of investigations into the matter, the Commission found there is no evidence to support the contention that Minister Garcia or any other person exercising a public function instructed and/or influenced the EFCL to pay Sunboom Contractors Limited ahead of other companies that were awaiting payment.  Consequently, the Commission has terminated the complaint under Section 34 (6) of the Integrity in Public Life Act. The vindication of Minister Garcia by the Commission is in line with his statement in Parliament in May 2017, in which he rejected accusations put to him by Dr. Gopeesingh that there was any truth to media reports of alleged preferential treatment meted out to an EFCL contractor over other contractors.

Following his exit from office in 2015, Dr. Gopeesingh has been pre occupied with making false accusations about Minister Garcia in an attempt to mislead the national community and to call on Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley to dismiss Minister Garcia.

“His false accusations and attacks to the hard working people of the Ministry of Education are a clear sign of desperation to tarnish the Ministry’s image and efforts made at improving the education sector”, said Minister Garcia. 

Dr. Gopeesingh's falsehoods over the last two and a half years include the Ministry closing down homework centres, which were actually closed before Minister Garcia took office. His claims that Minister Garcia also dismissed ICT technicians, School Safety Officers and Student Support Staff are all untruths since the Ministry has actually done the opposite of renewing contracts for over five hundred (500) of these professionals.

This latest vindication of Minister Garcia by the Integrity Commission of Trinidad and Tobago is testimony to the commitment and high level of transparency being undertaken by the Ministry of Education to repay contractors millions of dollars in debts incurred by the Ministry of Education under the stewardship of Dr. Gopeesingh during the period 2010 to 2015.

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