ACTIVIST Devant Maharaj on Tuesday published what he said was the phone number of Central Bank Governor Dr Alvin Hilaire in protest at Hilaire's alleged silence throughout the recent demonetisation exercise.
Newsday called the number, but got no reply.
In leaking the number, Maharaj asked where was the Governor’s voice now as citizens queue at length at the Central Bank to exchange the old $100 banknote for the new polymer note.
“Long lines snake the Central Bank today. This followed the elderly collapsing or urinating on themselves, irreplaceable productive hours lost, robberies of bank customers, businesses disrupted in a declining economy, death and stress of bank workers at the commercial bank for the past month," he complained.
“Confusion continues, as the mad rush to change old notes for new after the New Year's Day deadline, but not a word from the Governor.”
Maharaj said Hilaire was silent on the divulging of customers' financial information by ministers, seemingly in reference to the barber who reportedly took $1 million in cash to be exchanged.
He also criticised the Minister of National Security, who he said had rolled out this as a national security project and not as a demonetisation exercise by the Central Bank.
“Stuart Young is however silent on the issue, as he is on the murder rate. Minister of Finance Colm Imbert is perhaps equally as silent, as there have been no riots as yet.
“Amidst all of this chaos Prime Minister Keith Rowley has not said a word to a nation as to the success of the demonetisation exercise.”
Maharaj scoffed that all the chaos of demonetisation had happened just to identify "a barber and a pastor."
At a post-Cabinet briefing last month, Young spoke of an unnamed barber who had tried to deposit $1 million in cash. Pastor Pastor Vinworth Dayal was flagged by the Financial Intelligence Unit and police when he tried to change $28 million in old notes at the Central Bank at the December 31 deadline for exchange, sparking a national debate on whether or not such sums could be amassed from tithes or from barbering. The police seized a further $2 million from the pastor, the source of whose funds is now under investigation.
Chiding the Government, Maharaj urged, “Perhaps it is time we call them out and let them know the frustration that is being experienced.
“If it was Jwala Rambaran as Governor of the Central Bank the nation would have heard from him and the PNM would have blamed him for the chaos.”
On Tuesday, Newsday tried but was unable to contact Hilaire, Rowley, Imbert or Young for their views on the daily woes alleged by Maharaj to have arisen in the demonetisation exercise and on the success or failure of that exercise.
In his statement, Maharaj also leaked the phone numbers of the Prime Minister, Finance Minister Colm Imbert and National Security Minister Stuart Young, all of which he had previously released en masse in December 2018.
Back then he also successively released the numbers of Education Minister Anthony Garcia, Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan and Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, before releasing 20 numbers comprising those of virtually the whole Cabinet. A day later, Maharaj published the numbers of 21 UNC MPs and senators such as Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Wade Mark, plus his own. He justified the leaks as a means of "direct accountability" and "direct democracy," as he alleged a breakdown in basic services even as ministers were unreachable or alienated from the public.