board of directors of the Estate Management and Business Development
Company (EMBDC) has called on Prime Minister Patrick Manning
to remove a senior official from office.
According to sources, the board held its monthly meeting two
weeks ago, at which a motion of no confidence in the member
was passed, citing controversial financial issues, among other
On the main burner at the meeting, a source said, was a report
that a real estate development company was tipped to purchase
prime state-owned lands at Caroni Savannah Road, Chaguanas,
to set up an upscale billion-dollar housing development, complete
with golf course.
The boards decision, which has been forwarded to PM
Manning, in his capacity as Minister of Finance and Corporation
Sole, was based on fears that the developer could be a sole
selective tenderer, rather than being subject to established
open tendering procedure, sources said.
The EMBDC was set up in 2002 as a state enterprise by the
Peoples National Movement regime to manage exclusively
80,000 acres of lands, after the closure of Caroni (1975)
Its executive chairman is Uthara Rao, with Commodore Anthony
Franklin as deputy chairman. Other board members are Alicia
Chankar, Wilma Henry, Lenore Joseph, Farad Khan and Vernon
The EMBDC is mandated to execute governments plan to
distribute lands to former Caroni workers and for agricultural,
housing and real estate development projects.
Only last month, the company got the legal right to perform
these functions after the Lands Vesting Bill was brought to
Other troubling matters said to have influenced the boards
decision to remove the member include the performance of a
security company and the purchase of ten computers by an allegedly
Inter-action with staff members was also another decisive
After the motion was passed, it was reportedly sent by courier
to the office of the Minister in the Ministry of Finance,
A copy was also said to have been faxed to Manning.
Last Monday, after the no- confidence motion, the board met
Conrad Enill, Junior Minister of Finance at the Eric Williams
Financial Complex, Port-of-Spain.
Enill reportedly told EMBDC board that Manning (who was scheduled
to return to T&T from a week-long trip to Latin America)
would meet with them at his earliest convenience.
The junior minister himself, in a telephone conversation with
this newspaper, confirmed that he had met the board and that
Manning would meet them "at his earliest convenience."
He added that he had been asked to do so by the PM last Sunday
Contacted at her office for comment last week, Junior Minister
Sahadeo said it would be inappropriate to comment
on the matter.
The EMBDC came into the national spotlight on April 5, when
allegations of sexual misconduct were made against chairman
Rao, during debate of the Caroni Lands Vesting Bill by Senator
Mark even took a swipe at the chairman, saying he goes
around boasting he is a good friend of the Prime Minister.
Rao was said to be in a meeting when this reporter
called for a comment on Thursday. A male voice said the chairman
would return the call, but there was no response from Rao
up to press time.
With reporting by