Devant Maharaj: Only big business will benefit from marijuana bill

Date: 
Monday, December 16, 2019 - 11:45

Former government minister, Devant Maharaj, believes only big business will benefit from new legislation to de-criminalise marijuana in this country.

According to Devant Maharaj, the government’s move is less focussed easing up the justice system and restorative justice for urban youth, and more about facilitating big business.

His comments come in light of revelations that relatives of the Attorney General’s wife have registered a company, which appears to want to be involved in the cannabis business.

The company's website states that it is a clothing company, selling merchandise and clothing with marijuana symbols.

The company's owner also has denied having any interaction with the Attorney General.

And the Attorney General himself has gone on record saying, he was in the dark about the months-old company, West Indian Cannabis Company Limited, a retail firm whose director has a family connection to his wife.

However, Devant Maharaj remains unconvinced.

“The only people who would be able to benefit from the business of cannabis production on the international scale of a billion dollar company are those in the one percent,” he argues. “Clearly, those people coming out of the Remand Yard wouldn’t fall into that category. I went to a cannabis conference two years ago in Jamaica and I could tell that some of the big players in the Trinidad and Tobago corporate world attended that, to see how they could cash in from a very early stage.”

Citizens' private financial business compromised?

Devant Maharaj also has asked the Police Commissioner to launch an investigation into both the ministers of National Security and Finance, because of their claims (last week) of being aware of suspicious transactions taking place during the early days of the changeover process for the new $100 polymer notes.

The former government minister wants to know if the laws have been changed so that ministers could access information on citizens’ personal financial transactions.

He says the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) regulations allow for reporting to the minister some six months after the end of the financial year, with no provision for early reporting mechanisms.

He also points to the Central Bank being governed by confidentiality clauses in the Financial Institutions Act, and the fact that commercial banks also are obligated to preserve the confidentiality of their customers’ accounts and transactions.

“It appears there has been a breach of a number of financial laws in Trinidad and Tobago by both ministers, in divulging this information,” Mr Maharaj argues. “It is easy for Minister Stuart Young to say that fishermen, pholourie sellers, doubles vendors—and barbers, as the government is now saying—are making these big deposits. We don’t have any information of this. Who is providing this information? How did these ministers get access to information on these people’s personal financial transactions?”

Devant Maharaj believes the Bankers Association and the Central Bank cannot afford to remain silent on this matter.

---

Story by NEWS DESK

Category: