Is Carmona’s mother-in-law employed at President’s House? President snubs FOIA request

Is President Anthony Carmona’s mother-in-law, Savitri Seetaram-Singh, employed by the Office of the President? Has she travelled abroad with the President’s family? And, if so, who paid for her airfare and accommodation?

These are some of the questions put to President’s House, through the Freedom of Information Act, by civic watch group, Fixin’ T&T, who requested information on Carmona’s staff.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago President Anthony Carmona. (Copyright
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago President Anthony Carmona.

However, the Office of the President pointed out that it is not bound by the FOIA and refused to answer.

“I am instructed to advise that the Act, by virtue of its [section] 5(1)(a), does not apply to the requested information,” stated the Secretary to the President, in response. “Your request is therefore respectfully refused.”

Section 5(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act states: “This Act does not apply to the President…”

Thus far, Carmona has ignored questions over his controversial acceptance of a TT$28,000 housing allowance despite being provided State housing and also snubbed queries over recent allegations with regards to his use of State funds.

The Office of the President also failed to accede to requests for information from the Auditor General which, in its 2016 report on the President’s House, noted that:

“There were 85 instances of incorrect classification of expenditure totalling TT$2,685,236.90 in contravention of Financial Regulation 65 [and] TT$300,444.92 sampled from total purchases amounting to TT$685,469.22 for the President’s household were not entered in the Inventory Register.”

Photo: Wine to the side! A curious label on a bottle of wine has raised questions for President Anthony Carmona. (Courtesy Rhoda Bharath)
Photo: Wine to the side! A curious label on a bottle of wine has raised questions for President Anthony Carmona.
(Courtesy Rhoda Bharath)

A video blog by university lecturer, blogger and talk show co-host Rhoda Bharath alleged last week that Carmona used State funds to buy jewellery for his wife, Reema Harrysingh-Carmona, and revealed a picture that showed the seal of the Office of the President on  a bottle of the wine.

Carmona’s only statement to go remotely near to that topic, so far, came in his 2016 Republic Day address:

“There is simply too much journalistic overreach going on today. There are some journalists and I repeat some, who denigrate without evidential basis, engaged in armchair journalism who hear something by the ways and it becomes reliable news. There are persons in reality media, who are bad examples for our children and the youth of this Nation.

“Decent, law-abiding citizens must take a stance because it appears, that offensive is in and decency is out. Theirs has become the language of obscenity and racial slurs-yes, that small circle that is leading the national dialogue, you are not the voice of the people because you have unfettered and unfair access to the press and media, because you have created vlogs and videos that rely for viewership and followers, not on proper and responsible research and wisdom but on distortions and sensationalism.”

Carmona, while admonishing the supposed diminishing moral authority in local society, did not seek to clear the Office of the President from the questions related to his own conduct or respond directly to Bharath’s allegations.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago President Anthony Carmona is snapped before a meeting with China President Xi Jingping in Port of Spain on 2 June 2013. (Copyright Frederic Dubray/AFP 2016/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago President Anthony Carmona is snapped before a meeting with China President Xi Jingping in Port of Spain on 2 June 2013.
(Copyright Frederic Dubray/AFP 2016/Wired868)

Fixin’ T&T has insisted that Carmona should answer the questions aimed at the President’s House or resign to preserve the sanctity of his office.

“Fixin’ T&T insists that President Carmona comprehensively and satisfactorily answer all questions on the numerous issues surrounding the Office of the President and President’s House… Or resign.

“We have been unable to find anywhere in our history that the Office of the President was cited by the Auditor General. In our view, President Carmona has long lost all moral, ethical and other authority to speak to issues of governance.

“Further, our Constitution must be urgently amended to protect that Office and by extension the people of Trinidad and Tobago from the unbridled hubris we presently endure.”

Fixin’ T&T questions to President Carmona:

“Has your mother-in-law ever been employed by President’s House or the Office of the President? If yes:

Photo: President Anthony Carmona (left) and his wife Reema Harrysingh-Carmona (centre) arrive in Buenos Aires for an international friendly between Trinidad and Tobago and Argentina in June 2014. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/TTFA)
Photo: President Anthony Carmona (left) and his wife Reema Harrysingh-Carmona (centre) arrive in Buenos Aires for an international friendly between Trinidad and Tobago and Argentina in June 2014.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/TTFA)

“In what capacity? At what remuneration? What was the date of her employment? Is she still employed there? Has she ever travelled abroad with your family?

“If yes to question five, how were her airfare and accommodation paid?”

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  1. Seems like he went to the conference on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to learn tips on how to get away with it.

  2. While all yuh laughing at America Lord Pussyfoot grabbing the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago by the nanny since 2013.

    “Of the overseas travel expenditure incurred, Savitri Singh, who bears a similar name to President Carmona’s mother-in-law Savitri Seeteram Singh, received allowances of over $300,000 to accompany the Carmona family on several overseas trips, including $78,781.09 to accompany the family on vacation to the Bahamas.

    Singh also received payment of a ­salary of around $14,000 monthly from the Office of the President from May 2013 to January 2014.

    A payment of $13,542.54 for “domestic services” to Singh was issued in April 2013.

    The Sunday Guardian was unable to confirm whether Savitri Singh and Savitri Seeteram Singh were the same person”

  3. Even gifts for friends and staff he put on the public’s tab

    “Anton’s Gold Rush for items such as a $3,000 baby bracelet gift for staff and a necklace.

    Jewelry purchases were also made from Zina’s jewelry, including $22,927 for jewelry given as gifts.

    A $4,000 payment to Wonderful World for gift cards was also recorded in the expenditure.”

  4. The holders of the office of the President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House should NOT be political appointments..

  5. Simon Benjamin who put him there?? Who is his wife family?? Think!!!

  6. Max the drunkard ….to carmona putting we coat of arms in rum bottle … wait day went to put broad nose in that position??? Anyway the president don’t have any powers in Trinidad …’s a retirement party package of you have any sense to see that

  7. In my opinion we are acting very Petty now and that’s the problem in this country. That’s the president and we need to treat him as such.

  8. They would not stop until they get ah pnm president.

  9. Notice that once it have ah Indian in different picture that is how they does want to bring them down. Remember : Sat Sharma, Susan Francois, the Indian woman who was speaker – house arrest.

  10. So what!!! Can’t trust people these days. Manning put he wife in all kinda minister position. But the racists don’t see Dat.

  11. (Important Disclosure: Words in quotation marks are double entendre and should be read at surface level 1st read)
    (Heart vs Mind) If we want the “best/limitless” for ourselves then, we should “treat” others the “same.” As a result, Simple logic shows that “Love” is always firstly dependent on “Hope” as “choice” because although you may choose to “Love” another (person or thing), there is no valid way of guaranteeing that “Love” will be returned/reciprocal; therefore it is a “blindtrust”/”Hope.” As a result, valid “Love” forms a circle because one individual always benefits/puts the other first (doing for others) causing “Love” to actually be selfless.
    Ps. The infinite applicability of “Hope” and “Love” as “constant variables” always results to cause the effect of the third “variable” best understood as the “moderator”/“Happiness.” “Hope” is (a continual “choice” as/for) “Love” that requires our commitment to communication and respect (aka “trust”). Therefore, what can any human do without the “Trusted Practice” of “choice” as “Hope” first?

  12. Is the former Independant Senator Dr.D Mahabir (remember him) is also his family by marriage?

  13. This man is despicable. What an embarrassment he is to the people of T&T.

  14. I think that President Carmona has to answer a lot of questions to the people of T&T. and soon.

  15. Charity begins at home !! If that is so true what is the problem T&T ?? Well just asking….

  16. This is about ‘Powers I have that you think I don’t have…’

  17. Every body related by horn so quit with this relation thing

  18. The Auditor General’s office needs to be enhanced and renamed the Government Accountability Office with more powers like in the US. The PNM promised to do this in their Manifesto

  19. Yes why now all these questions? I am sure these things didn’t happen overnight. And yes Orville London name is coming up for that position.

  20. This man making ‘Party to the Max’ look good by comparison.

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