Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales said he cannot investigate the allegations of a payout between the Telecommunication Services of TT (TSTT) and Minister of Digital Transformation Senator Hassel Bacchus, at this time.
Gonzales told Newsday the matter was raised in the public domain and there was no written request or queries before him about it.
“I know of the issue based on what I am reading on the national newspapers. I was never briefed on anything concerning this particular matter so, unfortunately, I would not be able to offer any comment on it.
“If there is any evidence presented to me or the Ministry of Public Utilities in relation to anything under my remit, then of course it would be investigated.”
On Friday Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) president Clyde Elder alleged that Bacchus received special treatment from TSTT’s pension plan.
He claimed Bacchus was paid a $2 million lump sum and $42,000 monthly which was money taken from the pension plan fund, in which other workers were having problems accessing, while people were receiving $800 and $1,000 pension payments.
Speaking with Newsday, Elder said the issue was not with Bacchus or Gonsalves, but with the mismanagement of TSTT’s pension fund by its executive.
Elder said, “Gonsalves has failed to meet with the union to date on other matters. If he wanted to intervene, he could, but he is taking a hands-off approach because it involves his Cabinet colleague.
“My focus is TSTT’s treatment of its pensioners. My issue is with TSTT and the management because they are presiding over wastage and corruption.”
He added that the CWU was prepared to take the matter to court if necessary.
TSTT, on Friday, said the CWU’s allegations against its board and management were false.
In a media release it said, “TSTT treats all employee and HR-related matters in the strictest confidence and therefore will not disclose any details of a former employee’s contractual arrangements, inclusive of pension benefits, irrespective of the individual’s position or tenure.
“TSTT wishes to state categorically that save for the transfer of a vehicle, no ex-gratia payment was made to Senator Hassel Bacchus on his departure from the organisation.”
It added that the process used to determine Bacchus’ pension for his tenure of 31 years’ service was done in full compliance with the provisions of the Trust Deed and Rules pension plan.
“The calculation and payment of pension benefits were administered by the independent trustees of the pension plan and, as such, no payments were made directly by the company, nor was the company involved in computation,” TSTT said.
Newsday attempted to reach Bacchus for comment but calls to his phone went unanswered.