OPPOSITION Senator Wade Mark has questioned why communications specialist Rhoda Bharath was hired by the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB), on the advice of the Finance Ministry, for $20,000 per month.
He raised as a matter on the adjournment during the Senate sitting on Tuesday on the “pollution or contamination” of the recruitment process at the NLCB. He reported that there appeared to be a “certain kind of wildness” at the NLCB where the independence of the Statutory Authorities’ Service Commission seemed to be compromised and undermined.
He said though the NLCB has a communications department, without any public advertisement, the NLCB, acting on the advice of the Finance Ministry, recruited Bharath for $20,000 a month. “You could recruit who you want but you must do it properly.”
He said there was no evidence that any advertisement went out so the public could respond and get an equal chance. Mark reported that he had the board minutes of the corporate secretary concerning the engagement of Bharath and how it was done.
He said she was recruited without advertisement “to do damage control” as they claim. He reported according to the agreement before him, Bharath was receiving $750 per hour, is allowed to work for 20 hours a month and any work exceeding 20 hours will be charged at an hourly rate of $750.
Mark also spoke about a letter dated November 20, 2019 and addressed to NLCB financial controller Wendy Dwarika. He explained the letter has to do with the appointment to act as director and the letter is from the Finance Ministry and signed by the Permanent Secretary.
He read: “I am to inform you that you have been appointed to act as director, NLCB, for a period of two weeks from November 20, 2019.”
Mark commented that there are appeared to be an attempt by the Government through the Ministry of Finance to take upon itself responsibilities that ought to be properly executed by the SASC.
“So I would like the honourable minister to clear the air on this matter so that we in TT can understand what exactly is taking place.”
Imbert in a brief response said the SASC deals with pensionable and permanent positions within the lotteries board. “And what Senator Mark refers to appears to be some sort of consultancy position which has nothing to do with the SASC.” In the second matter he said that the person in question (Dwarika) was never appointed to act as executive director.