Councilors face eviction as govt fails to pay rent: UNC

Councilors face eviction as govt fails to pay rent: UNC

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Trinidad and Tobago: MP Dave Tancoo asked the Minister of Local government for an exact date when the administration will release funds to Regional Corporations to pay outstanding long rent for Councilors offices in the Parliament.

It was reported recently that UNC Councilors were being threatened with eviction by Landlords who were being owed rent in some cases for almost a year for office.

These offices are critical to councilors’ ability to meet and engage members of the public. The rent is paid from an account established for this purpose by the Administration of the Regional Corporation, headed by the Chief Executive Officer, an employee of the Ministry of Local Government, who would have signed the contractually binding lease with the relevant Landlord.

The failure to meet their contractual arrangement means that the Corporations are in breach of contract and can be subject to lawful action and subsequent levy as has been done before for outstanding debt. 

It is the minister of Local Government’s accountability to ensure that Councilors are equipped with necessary tools, including telephone and offices, to conduct their duties as elected representatives of the people. To fail to do so means that the Minister of Local Government is directly preventing Councilors from doing their jobs.

Today the Minister of Local Government was absent from the Parliament. Instead, the Minister of Health advised that the Government WAS aware of the problem and was “working on it.” 

It is intolerable that after almost a year, the Government remains unable to give assurances to the Landlords that their rents will be paid. No analysis is required: the Government signed contracts with these landlords who have provided the relevant service. 

What is needed is payment for the service which the Government must admit has been supplied! This dereliction of duty and apparent discrimination by the Minister of Local Government against UNC councilors is unacceptable. 

This deliberate disregard to small business entrepreneurs who entered contracts with the Government in good faith only to be denied their just rent by an uncaring Government is untenable.

MP Tancoo believes that the Government should advise the country whether they rent of properties owned by the Al Rawi family has similarly remained unpaid or whether this and other Government Friends, Family, and Financiers have had their accounts settled apparent cost of local Government Councilors. This article is presented by UNC Communications.

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