Popular social media blogger Rhoda Bharath is a contract employee of the Ministry of Finance earning $30,000 a month.
This was revealed through several sources which include a question in Parliament and a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Finance.
On Friday, Minister of Finance Colm Imbert responded to a question for written answer from the Opposition, which asked: Will the Minister state: a. the positions held by Rhoda Bharath at the National Lotteries Control Board and any other publicly funded State bodies/agencies; b. the responsibilities for each position held; and c. the remuneration package for each position held?
The Minister responded saying that Bharath was an independent contractor at the National Lotteries Control Board in the area of communications from October 1, 2018 to May 31, 2020.
It went on to say that Bharath held no position with that public entity or any other public entity. But the written answer continues, “However, Ms Bharath provides services as an independent contractor to the Ministry of Finance in the areas of Events Planning and Communications from time [sic]”
Bharath was recently seen at the Ministry of Finance’s Spotlight on the Economy held on September 2nd in the Hyatt.
Guardian Media is in possession of a freedom of information request to the Ministry of Finance filed earlier this year, which asked for the names and salaries of any communications consultants employed by the Ministry.
The Ministry of Finance responded, “The Ministry has retained the services of Type 1 Media and Research Solutions as Communications Consultant during the period April 1, 2022 to March 31st 2023 at a monthly fee of TT$30,000.00.”
It’s unclear if the contract is new or simply a renewal of an older contract.
Type 1 Media and Research Solutions was registered by Rhoda Bharath at the Ministry of Legal Affairs on November 3, 2017. According to its official filing in the Companies Registry, the nature of the business is listed as a company involved in “media, communications and research strategies.”
The registration document notes Bharath is also a lecturer at the University of the West Indies.
Guardian Media reached out to Bharath for comment on how long she had been employed at the Ministry of Finance and to describe what her duties were. She declined to comment.
The Ministry of Finance has three other corporate communications officers on contract earning $18,500, $14,200 and $5,000 per month.
Bharath shot into prominence in 2016, breaking the story of then President Anthony Carmona acquiring wine bearing the presidential seal. At the time it was seen as a misappropriation of funds. The intense pressure forced Carmona to hold a press conference (almost unheard of by a President) to respond to the accusations, which he denied.
Since then Bharath has garnered a following of thousands through her Facebook page ‘Newsauce’ which at the time of publishing, has over 35,000 likes.
Bharath has often used her platform to break stories and leak documents, leading many to proclaim her as a journalist, praising her for having all the best “sources.”
She has also often used that platform to criticise the work of journalists extensively on her Facebook Live broadcasts.
Journalists, on principle, should not work for other entities which could be seen as a conflict to their ability to report objectively. For journalists working in established media houses this is often a contractual obligation.
Bharath is currently a member of several “state” Whatsapp groups meant for members of the media including one set up by the Parliament and one created by the Minister of Health in 2018 that was used extensively during the pandemic.
During the pandemic, the question of whether Bharath was in fact a journalist reached as far as the High Court when former Minister Devant Maharaj sued the government to join the daily Ministry of Health Covid-19 briefings.
Maharaj complained then Communications Minister Donna Cox was granting access to “other online journalists,” including Rhoda Bharath, Lasana Liburd of Wired868.co,, and Prior Beharry of AZPnews.com and not him. He said it was “an abuse of power, unfair and biased.” Maharaj also alleged favouritism and bias in favour of Bharath, whom he accused of being a supporter of the government. Maharaj eventually lost the case and Bharath eventually stopped attending the Ministry of Health briefings.