The Minister of Finance has stepped in to authorise deputy commissioner of police McDonald Jacob be assigned the responsibility as the accounting officer for the police service.
A release from the Ministry of Finance on Saturday said Jacob was appointed as the accounting officer for the police under Section 2 of the Exchequer and Audit Act, Chap. 69:01 and Regulation 3 of the Financial Regulations.
The release noted that Jacob was appointed effective from October 15.
The development came as the High Court on Thursday struck down Jacob’s role as acting CoP. The CoP is the accounting officer of the police service and must sign off on invoices for goods and services.
During a media conference at her Charles Street, Port of Spain, office on Friday, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar questioned the validity of appointments to DCP under Jacob, specifically the appointments of acting DCPs Erla Christopher and Joanne Archie.
Speaking at a media conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, on Saturday, Dr Rowley said as far as he was aware only two positions would be affected.
“I can say off-hand that it would affect the Commissioner of Police, it affects the Deputy Commissioner who was acting as commissioner and that is as far as I’m aware at this time.”
The judgment found that the appointments of former commissioner of police (CoP) Gary Griffith and deputy commissioner McDonald Jacob as acting CoPs were unlawful.
The judge held that the legislation governing the appointment of acting CoP and acting deputy commissioners must follow the same procedure as the process to fill the substantive posts and require the approval of the House of Representatives after a list of candidates is submitted to the President by the Police Service Commission (PSC).
On the question of when a new commissioner would be appointed, Rowley said while he recognised the need for swift action at this time, a new Police Service Commission (PSC) must be appointed first.
He added that once the approvals of the nominees were made, the Parliament would address the issues as priority.
“There’s a requirement under the Constitution for there to be a PSC made up of a chairman and four others.
“That commission is selected by the President who will then advise the Parliament that these are the people for consideration.
“It is then for the Parliament to either accept or reject. I have no doubt that the President’s House would have been seeking to fill those vacancies.
“I in my capacity as Prime Minister, I am required to be consulted, I have been consulted I am being consulted, names are being put forward and the President will get a response and names will come forward to the Parliament.
“As soon as those names are in the Parliament the Government will take steps to treat with the matter with dispatch.”
Persad-Bissessar was critical of the nomination of attorney Ernest Koylass to the PSC, who she said had recently hosted PNM fundraiser.
Rowley said such attacks were unbecoming and part of the consultation process in appointing a new commission required confidentiality. Two other people have been selected by the President to fill the PSC vacancies. They are retired judge Judith Jones and management consultant Maxine Attong.