Anand: It’s not about the piano, it’s about the misuse of funds

“No, not at all. That is not the issue,” he said in a telephone interview.

Ramlogan also maintained that he had never accused Manning of taking the piano.

“I never, in my contribution, accused him of taking it. I had asked him to locate it because obviously he would know the sprawling mansion that he built and where he put it.”

During his contribution to a motion to amend the Anti-Corruption Act in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Ramlogan revealed that the Manning administration had purchased ten pianos from Bosendorfer, Las Vegas, USA at an estimated cost of US$850,677, one of which was missing.

The transaction, he revealed, was made by the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT).

But Manning, during a new conference, said the grand piano had never left its location and was in fact, still within the confines of the Diplomatic Centre, on the eastern side of the stage.

Ramlogan, in a statement on Friday, thanked Manning for clarifying the issue, but chastised him for what he insisted was the misuse and abuse of public funds during his term as PM.

“The University of Trinidad and Tobago is meant to provide tertiary education for our young adults and it is therefore strange that such funds were secretly diverted to purchase ten grand pianos. This (purchase) is in violation of the established practice and procedures that govern and regulate the expenditure of public funds,” Ramlogan said in the statement.

Insisting that the purchase of the pianos was not made through proper channels, the AG said it should have been done through the Ministry of Culture or the Office of the Prime Minister.

Yesterday, Ramlogan also maintained that Manning did not want the nation to know about the then Government’s decision to purchase the pianos through the UTT.

“It is abundantly clear he did not want anybody to know about the piano because ten were purchased and the public is none-the-wiser,” Ramlogan told Sunday Newsday.

“No one in this country ever saw or heard an international recital at the Diplomatic Centre which he claimed it was bought for. The overriding fundamental issue of the misuse of funds to satisfy private ego and delusions of grandeur.

“What we are embarrassed about is the fact that ten pianos were purchased by the UTT at the former PM’s behest secretly and hidden from the public without any form of public disclosure. That is contrary to democracy, transparency and good governance.”

The AG said only dictators spent public monies as if it were their own without any public disclosure “at the expense of beds in the hospital and other basic amenities.”

“One piano could have covered the People’s Partnership’s Christmas hamper distribution which they (PNM) criticised and they bought ten. Nobody knew anything about it,” he added.

Ramlogan, in the statement, also spoke out against Manning’s belief that he (Ramlogan) would not have recognised the piano because he might have mistaken it for a harmonium.

“The harmonium is the Indian equivalent to the piano. Mr Manning’s contempt for the harmonium is consistent with the contempt and arrogance he displayed towards the Indo- Trinidadian community during his tenure,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s National Security adviser Gary Griffith has described as “unprofessional and totally unacceptable,” Manning’s suggestion that Persad-Bissessar’s safety was being compromised.

“I wish to express my disappointment that an MP and previous PM will so blatantly attempt to compromise the security of a Prime Minister by publicly stating that several security cameras were removed from the residence and hence alluding to the fact that the PM’s residence is now vulnerable to external threats,”he said in a statement on Friday.

“If a previous PM was so paranoid and wanted to ensure that he could personally monitor every movement at the residence during his tenure as PM, and he wanted to also ensure that everyone is aware of his movement at all times, then that is his business, but placing several security cameras at every corner in every room of your house is not a measure of being security conscious but more of an individual who is paranoid.”

Griffith said in the release that proper security systems and measures had now been restructured in such a way to ensure the safety and security of the PM, “so it is advised that the inside informants of the previous PM need to get their facts straight before they continue to send inaccurate information to their previous boss.”

Griffith wondered why Manning would have made such a statement.

“The question should then be asked as to what was the reason for MP Manning to deliberately make such a statement, which could have served no purpose other than to deliberately compromise the security of the Prime Minister,” he said.


"Anand: It’s not about the piano, it’s about the misuse of funds"

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