A new Director has been appointed to head the Security Intelligence Agency (SIA).
President George Maxwell Richards, acting on the advice of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, earlier this week issued the instrument of appointment to 31-year-old Reshmi Usha Ramnarine.
Ramnarine has been attached to the SIA for the past four years where she held the post of communications technician. She was among the employees sent home when the SIA was busted in October last year.
Her appointment is expected to last for six months.
The SIA came into public glare last year when Attorney General Anand Ramlogan announced that the SIA was illegally spying on citizens of T&T.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, in addressing Parliament, called the names of several people, including members of her Cabinet, Opposition MPs, journalists and trade unionists upon whom the SIA was spying.
Following the announcement, Director of the SIA, Nigel Clement was fired. Clement succeeded Lynne Ann Williams, a former soldier, who ran the unit for close to 14 years.
Williams is now the executive director of Caricom Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS).
Sources say Ramnarine's appointment has left a sour taste in the mouths of SIA personnel, since she lacks the educational background and expertise to run the agency which deals with intelligence gathering information and security issues with regards to the country.
"She has no training whatsoever in the field of security and intelligence," a source said.
Stating that Ramnarine will be exposed to "extremely sensitive material on national security issues," the source added that employees at SIA were officially informed of the appointment on Wednesday, when Ramnarine called a meeting displaying her instrument of appointment. Calls to several government ministers on the issue were dodged as many of them expressed surprise at the appointment.
One Minister, who did not wish to be identified, said: "I am now hearing of this. It probably happened and we (Cabinet) did not know."
Sources said Ramnarine, a past student of John Donaldson Technical Institute, entered the SIA as a junior support staff member and earned a monthly salary of $5,000.
With this promotion, Ramnarine's salary has now been pushed into the $40,000-$45,000 range. She will also receive transportation, travelling and other allowances. Should she be required to travel, she will be entitled to business class.
Sources further say following the SIA fiasco last year, Persad-Bissessar had appointed Trevor Ganpat, 33, to head the agency. Ganpat, sources say, is a senior intelligence analyst and was in charge of the Threat Assessment Group during the Caribbean Heads of Government Conference (CHOGM) held in 2009, which saw United States President Barack Obama and world leaders visit Trinidad.
Ganpat has been attached to SIA for the past ten years and is currently awaiting results from the University of the West Indies, having completed his Masters in Criminology.
Ganpat is also an intelligence analyst on the National Security Council.
Sources say that Ganpat was given his instrument of appointment to head the agency within 24 hours after a recommendation was made for him to be at the helm, but this was rescinded, weeks after.
Two weeks ago, Ganpat and another senior analyst— Julie Browne—were given their instruments of appointment to the post of Deputy Directors of SIA.
They received their instruments from Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Jennifer Boucaud-Blake.
Repeated efforts to get a response from Ramnarine proved unsuccessful, as calls to her cellphone went unanswered and voice messages were not returned.
Calls to Minister of National Security John Sandy and Minister in the Ministry Subhas Panday, also went unanswered.