Government provides all resources to CoE, says Minister | Additional News
Communications Minister Symon de Nobriga assured that the government is providing the necessary resources to the Commission of Inquiry (CoE) to investigate the Paria diving tragedy.
Speaking at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press conference, de Nobriga gave assurances but avoided questions about responsibility for ensuring the commission was properly equipped before the issue was raised by the commission chairman, Jerome Lynch, QC, Wednesday.
De Nobriga said he didn’t want to focus on blame.
His comments follow statements from the chairman’s office and the commission’s lead counsel, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, yesterday, both distancing themselves from any responsibility for the matter.
At a Council of Europe procedural hearing on Wednesday, Lynch pleaded for intervention, saying the commission had not been given the basic tools to carry out its work.
He said the commission faced delays due to a lack of resources such as pens, paper, printers and an internet connection, and Wednesday’s hearing was only made possible. thanks to the intervention of Energy Minister Stuart Young and the “looting” of the Prime Minister’s office for chairs, desks and other office furniture.
Lynch said the commission was also hampered by a lack of staff, as there was only one secretary to deal with more than 4,500 pages of evidence.
He stressed that it was not the commission’s responsibility to provide the resources, a position reiterated by Maharaj.
Maharaj said the commission had made all relevant requests to the state to obtain the administrative infrastructure required to carry out the functions of the Council of Europe and was determined, despite the lack of resources, to complete the investigation. by the end of the year, or early January 2023 at the latest.
The president’s office also denied responsibility for providing resources, saying its only role was to appoint commissioners and receive the final report.
“The Office of the President has no role/responsibility for funding or other resourcing of any aspect of the commissions of inquiry,” the OTP said in a press release.
“The President appoints commissioners on the advice and under the terms provided by the Cabinet and, at the end of the investigation, receives the relevant report for onward transmission. This is the OTP’s only involvement in the commissions of investigation,” he added.
Asked about the issue at the post-Cabinet press conference, de Nobriga avoided naming the office responsible for providing resources to the commission.
“What I don’t want to do is focus on the issue of blame,” he said.
Pressed further, de Nobriga said: “You got a response from the Communications Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, let’s leave it at that. In assigning responsibility, he would be reported as assigning blame…”
De Nobriga said he was concerned about the commission’s complaints and had followed up on them so that the issues were resolved quickly.
“What I can tell you is that I’ve spoken to the people responsible for delivery and there are a few things that have come up…a few issues that have come up.”
He said the stationery would be delivered to the commission by today and the issue of workstations is currently being addressed. The commission was also to be provided with an Internet connection yesterday.
“It is unfortunate that these matters had to be addressed today and have not been before, but we have taken every step to ensure that the office can function as an office with all necessary input,” said the Minister of Communications.
De Nobriga added that he did not believe public confidence in the CoE had been affected by the incident.
“There will be people who, and we see this daily as a government … there are people in the public domain whose intent is to try to undermine every aspect of authority, every aspect of good news that the government is trying to deliver.
“This, of course, is something separate and apart from government and it must remain that way. All we can do is make sure the necessary infrastructure is in place…we allow the CoE to do its job.
“I am not here to blame any ministry, division or agency. I’m just here to say that after I identify the issues they are taken care of and the next time Mr Lynch speaks I’m confident that he will be able to speak being able to say this has been resolved as soon as possible time, after making it an issue in the public domain,” he said.
The CoE has held one procedural hearing so far. A second day was originally booked yesterday, but the procedural hearing ended on Wednesday.
Witness hearings will take place from November 21 to 24, December 5 to 8, December 12 to 15 and, if necessary, from January 9 to 13.