A pharmaceutical consultant says he will take legal action against the State if a million dollar deal falls through because of the Government’s failure to put proper structures in place for Venezuelan visas.
Linwald Beharry, a consultant with a major strategic firm, said he started negotiating with a Panama-based company to provide pharmaceuticals to T&T, two years ago.
The company, whose name he has withheld, has operations in Venezuela and Beharry said they were supposed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the company officials last Saturday. However, he said the officials were unable to enter T&T because they had no visas.
Showing footage of the Embassy, Beharry said, “When our associates went to the Embassy, there were only three people available. They said they do not have correspondence from the Ministry of National Security in Trinidad regarding the requirements for visas. Because of this, they are not allowed to travel. We stand a big chance of losing two years of research and development which will total in the millions. The Embassy says they do not have the visa requirements from T&T, so visas cannot be granted,” Beharry said.
He said statements from Minister of National Security Stuart Young that the Embassy in Venezuela was fully staffed and functional were not accurate.
“No one today knows what the truth is and I want to know what is the truth. If they are fully staffed they should be giving visas from the next day. We will lose millions and the opportunity to give employment will be terminated. Caribbean Airlines will lose millions every week because no one is flying to this country from Venezuela and this too will be devastating,” Beharry said.He criticised the government for penalising the Venezuelan nationals who were trying to get into T&T legally.
“I want the Minister to look at the honest businesspeople who are travelling and following the guidelines. It seems he is penalising the Venezuelans who are following regulations and the illegal Venezuelans are being treated with respect and getting documents,” Beharry said.
He urged Young to put the proper systems in place to ensure that deserving Venezuelans get visas.
Asked whether he planned to take legal action, Beharry said if the deal falls through and his associates do not get here by Saturday, he will initiate legal action. He noted that the pharmaceutical company would have provided cheaper medicine to the citizens of T&T. Minister of National Security Stuart Young did not respond to calls. Minister of Foreign Affairs Dennis Moses is currently out of the country.
T&T’s consul in the Venezuelan Embassy at Caracas, Dayne Marc Chin Slick referred questions to the Communications Divison of the Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs for response but none was forthcoming.
However, Minister Young said last week that the Government was “trying to ensure” it has sufficient resources at its Caracas embassy to process visa applications for Venezuelans.
Young said, “I’ve been in discussions with the Foreign Affairs Minister on how this will be carried out from our embassy in Caracas which is currently staffed. He added the approval for the visa will come from “headquarters” in T&T.”
“What it will be, is applications will be done in Caracas and headquarters will say ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ to the applications that are made in Caracas,” he added.
He said all information on the cost of the visa, the application process, logistical elements and other aspects will be provided “in the not too distant future.”
Reporter: Radhica De Silva