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Monday 19 November 2018
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DIPLOMATIC FREE-FOR-ALL

Ex-High Commissioner to India wrote to Rowley

FLASHBACK: In this November 30, 2016 photo, TT's High Commissioner to India, Dave Persad (Right), presents his credentials to India’s President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, in New Delhi.
FLASHBACK: In this November 30, 2016 photo, TT's High Commissioner to India, Dave Persad (Right), presents his credentials to India’s President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, in New Delhi.

ATTORNEY Dave Persad who on July 2, tendered his resignation to government as this country's High Commissioner to India, had written to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley detailing rampant corruption and a state of free-for-all behaviour at TT's High Commission in India.

Chief among his allegations highlighted to the prime minister, is that tax payers were footing a TT$120,000 per term bill to send the son of a low-level diplomat to a prestigious British-run school in India. Another claim of Persad is that TT pays $50,000 per month in excess of the true rental value of the commission's offices in New Delhi.

When Persad did not even get the courtesy of an acknowledgement of receipt of his letters documenting the corruption taking place, from the Office of the Prime Minister, he decided on July 2, to tender his resignation effective July 31. The resignation was accepted and he returned to Trinidad on July 15.

With accreditation to Sri Lanka and Indonesia as well, Persad spent 24 months as High Commissioner. In his resignation letter, he told Rowley that if millions were being spent on diplomatic staff who are living it up in India yet he (Persad) could not even get a TT steel pan to play at an event in India, at no cost to the government, "then no useful purpose will be served in me continuing as commissioner."

Persad told Rowley while diplomatic public servants continue to live-it-up in New Delhi to the tune of millions of taxpayers' dollars, the mission cannot account for a single achievement in trade and cultural relations with India, many of which he proposed since taking up office on October 9, 2016.

Persad highlighted to the prime minister that after eight years, the commission's caretaker who is of Indian nationality, was still being paid below India's daily national minimum wage. He pointed out that earlier this year, the commission was inoperable for months due to a lack of secretarial services after the local Indian staff stopped work in protest over wages that were lower than India's national minimum wage.

All of this while TT was footing a $2.2 million rental bill to house the commission's office when the real rental value is $300,000. Newsday was told that neither Rowley nor Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister Dennis Moses ever responded to Persad’s letter dated May 20.

Persad told Rowley he discovered that the TT government was paying $81,000 per month to rent the commission’s office although the market value is $20,000. He complained to Rowley that unknowing to him (Persad), a new lease was entered into despite over 250 properties in New Delhi that were available for viewing. He said that the result was that TT is paying $.45 million in overvalued rent.

Persad told the PM that he discovered an independent register of the mission’s property (including vehicles) and personnel, had been destroyed and when he enquired from a senior staff member, she admitted that she had thrown the register in the garbage and this was, "within her remit to so do.”

Persad told Rowley he has had to file seven misconduct charges with the Director of Personnel Administration against a senior High Commission staff member. Persad concluded in his letter to the PM that there exists a calculated and brutal plot to undermine and frustrate programmes of the TT High Commission in India.

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