UNC slams Central Bank policy on political participation: It’s hypocritical, nonsensical

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Lyndon De Gannes is the UNC’s candidate for Malabar North. –

THE UNC has slammed the Central Bank for one of its policies on political involvement by its employees, calling it hypocritical, disproportionate and nonsensical.

The party does not believe the policy should be as “broad-brushed” as it currently is.

This follows a Central Bank chauffeur receiving an injunction to stop him from being fired for being a local government election candidate.

Lyndon De Gannes is the UNC’s candidate for Malabar North for the August 14 election.

After filing his nomination on June 26, he got a letter from the bank reminding him of its code of conduct and common terms of conditions of employment which prevents employees from running for political office.

The code says while the bank encourages employees to exercise their civil rights, it must operate in an objective, impartial and balanced manner and be seen to be politically independent so employees cannot run for or hold political, local government, borough council or parliamentary office.

He was given until Friday to withdraw from the election.

However, Justice Kevin Ramcharan granted the injunction on Friday, which prevents the bank from firing him.

De Gannes – an employee at the bank for over 28 years – is being represented by a team of attorneys led by former attorney general Anand Ramlogan, SC.

Speaking at a press conference in Port of Spain on Sunday, UNC senator Jayanti Lutchmedial, who is also part of the legal team, said De Gannes was simply “seeking to exercise his constitutional right to freedom of expression.”

She continued, “When you have internal policies of a State agency or any other organisation which attempts to curtail the constitutional rights and freedom of an individual which are enshrined in the highest law of our land – the Constitution – they must be proportionate.”

She said his job title and the related responsibilities ought not to have that policy applied to them.

“And we have reviewed the jurisprudence coming out of the European Convention of Human Rights, we have looked at the Canadian jurisprudence where, in many cases, they have actually said what applies to, for example, a deputy minister cannot be the same rule that will apply to a cafeteria worker.”

She said there is a lot of hypocrisy in the Central Bank’s policy especially as there are no policies against campaigning and politicking.

“You could hug up and take a picture with the candidate but you can’t be the candidate…”

She questioned how the Central Bank could amend policies to allow employees to hold positions on State boards but is against reviewing this policy.

However, she said she can understand if employees who are managers or responsible for reviewing monetary policies, etc, have this policy applied to them.

But: “You cannot have a broad brush…massive sweep of a policy.

She said recently, PNM members have been saying the UNC “loves court.”

In response to this, she said, “Yes, we do, actually. We love being able to stand in defence of the rights and freedom of all individuals in TT.

“The UNC tries to secure rights while the PNM tries, at every term, to take away our rights.”

She added, “We will not back down.”

UNC member and former national security minister Joseph Toney said the PNM’s campaigning has been focusing heavily on local government reform but added that the party has been promising that for years.

“In the general election of 2015, the PNM manifesto set out very clearly that the PNM was bent on local government reform. The people believed them, they won the general election.

In 2016, they came back again and said local government reform. The people believed them again, they won the local government election. Three years later, they introduced the bill for local government reform to Parliament…”

He said the party’s words “amount to nothing” and urged the government to do the necessary work.