By SEAN DOUGLAS Thursday, October 18 2012
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Newsday reader: PNM Senator Fitzgerald Hinds holds a copy of yesterday's Newsday as he hits out at Government during the Budget debate in the Senate. ...
THIS Cabinet has a near-equal number of Indians and non-Indians, but the former PNM regime named State boards which lacked Indians, alleged Minister of Gender Affairs, Youth and Child Development, Marlene Coudray.
Racial charges and counter-charges flew in the Senate debate on the Budget yesterday, with Coudray’s remarks coming on the heels of earlier remarks by Government Chief Whip, Ganga Singh, and Opposition Senator Fitzgerald Hinds.
Coudray said the People’s Partnership (PP) Government has an almost balanced ethnic ratio in Cabinet of seven Indians to six non-Indians.
“It’s the closest to a perfect scenario in Trinidad and Tobago,” she said.
By contrast, Coudray said the PNM had appointed State boards of which 92 percent had more non-Indians than Indians. Some 75 out of 81 such State boards had more non-Indians than Indians, she said.
“Ten had absolutely no Indians,” she added.
“In a country such as Trinidad and Tobago where nearly 50 percent of the population is of Indo descent, of the 646 members of the State boards under the PNM government, 508 of those persons were non-Indian while 138 were Indian.”
She said rural neglect in TT had been “absolutely horrifying” as residents of those areas had no- one to appeal to in past PNM Cabinets.
“PNM only pays lip service to this race thing, because I have been among them in terms of my associates,” she said to her colleagues as they loudly applauded at her clear reference to her role as the common-law wife of former PNM Labour Minister, Larry Achong. She accused the Opposition of desperate tactics and told them to stop making wild allegations on race.
Earlier Hinds had alleged racism at the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB).
“Once you are African, they are doing things to you,” alleged Hinds. “The chairman of the board of the ADB (Roodal Maharaj) has been tormenting the staff. He has been hiring and interviewing staff along, behaving like an executive chairman: handling loans. He spent $400,000 on a project when it was budgeted at $40,000. Thirty-three people were employed and all of one race. I am no racist. I hate racism.”
Later Singh flatly refuted those claims by Hinds, whom he hit for not just latent racism but also patent racism. Singh said the ADB board does not hire anyone except the top executives.
Singh refuted Hinds’ claims by saying the composition of the ADB is 70 percent African, five percent mixed and 25 percent Indian. He said of those persons hired by the ADB under the PP Government, some 10 were Indian and 25 were other races. Attorney General Anand Ramlogan shouted that the PNM is racist and is trying to divide TT.
Singh accused Hinds of rumshop talk, but then reminded the Senate that Hinds does not partake alcohol, saying, “I know the honourable Senator does not drink, but I don’t know what he imbibed.”