As T&T cracks under the Rowley PNM, Kamla takes charge

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Keith Rowley… so what?

A letter to the editor from Gerald Vincent

It took only nine months for the Keith Rowley PNM to fully strangle a once strong nation into multiple fractures.

By September 2015, Trinidad and Tobago was feeling the weight of challenges, requiring expenditure cuts and fiscal adjustments to navigate reversals in growth, business and industry activity. But then, most forecasts pointed to a period of short-lived reversals, with a return to strong conditions in the short term.

Poor judgment by some citizens, and an Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) desperate for the return of the founding fathers of Civil Service incompetence and corruption gave way to the Keith Rowley PNM, relieving Kamla Persad-Bissessar of duty despite an extraordinary term of political change and performance.

It only took about as much time as it takes a human being to give birth to a new life for the Rowley PNM to utterly and completely erase a 5-year quantum leap forward.

Despite unprecedented reversals, the Opposition Leader has decided that she would do what Rowley has failed to do, ‘pro-bono’, for the sake of the public interest. This single ray of light in a period of prolonged darkness comes at a very important time.

The hand grenade found at a Point Fortin

Primary School on 7th June 2016

Crime crisis worsens

Today, two murders pushed the 2016 count further past the days for the year at 205.

A hand grenade was found at a primary school.

And there was a bomb scare at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine.

That was today alone; Tuesday 7th June 2016, exactly nine months after Trinidad and Tobago consummated a new political marriage.

Out of that marriage has been born a new period of decline that most citizens thought was confined to a dark place in history forever. And crime has now been fully restored as the only Rowley PNM growth industry.

The main problem that brought us here is political indifference and rank arrogance by a man who never fit the bill of Prime Minister. It was Keith Rowley who told the media in May 2016 that ‘the Government’s role in crime activates after crime is committed, not before.’

Shortly after, in Parliament, Rowley underlined his abject failure by saying to the Couva North MP, Ramona Ramdial in relation to crime, ‘what am I to do, I cyah help yuh’.

Casual idiocy basically told the population that crime prevention was not in fact on the front-burner, despite being in a place where the fear of crime is driven by not only murder but also rampant child abuse; threats to the physical safety of women; terrorist threats which could be locally driven, and rampant corruption amidst deep economic challenges.

So the Opposition Leader’s call at the UNC’s Monday Night Forum for the immediate dismissal of THREE Ministers of National Security is sensible and urgent.

Rather than Keith Rowley’s plan to dismiss Faris Al-Rawi as Attorney General and replace him with the fully-trained and well-travelled PNM ‘yes-man’, Stuart Young, consideration should be given to the fact that we can’t possibly need three Ministers of National Security to intervene in crime if the Government has abdicated its role in prevention.

Denial in the face of facts

Rampant corruption and the Rowley PNM

The word ‘rampant’ is no understatement; corruption revelations of post-September 2015 vintage have featured almost as often as failures to address the spiraling crime crisis.

And the most recent news tell a very distressing tale of collusion between Keith Rowley and Jack Warner, despite years of PNM attacks and calls for Warner to have no association whatsoever with politics, politicians or political authority.

Exposed email exchanges have revealed that deals were made between Rowley and Warner, and the former Chaguanas West MP is now brazenly calling in favours.

So compelling is the evidence of outright breaches of Integrity and Criminal laws that Persad-Bissessar instructed her former Housing Minister, Dr. Roodal Moonilal to write a letter of complaint to the Integrity Commission citing ‘apparent breaches at Sections 24(1)(a)(b); (2)(a)(c)(d) and 26’ of the Integrity in Public Life Act.

The letter states: “The complaint concerns recent actions of Mr. Newman George, Chairman of the Housing Development Corporation (“HDC”) and a person in public life which may constitute breaches of the Integrity in Public Life Act (“the Act”) as well as criminal conduct in relation to his office.

Attached for your attention is an email dated April 5, 2016, from what appears to be the email address of Mr. Newton George to Mr. Brent Lyons, the Managing Director of the HDC. In that email:

·   Mr. George forwards to Mr. Lyons an email dated April 4, 2016, from the email address which I recognize to be the email address of Mr. Jack Warner, the former political leader of the Independent Liberal Party and owner of Sunshine Newspaper;

·  Mr. George directs Mr. Lyons to “put…in train” a request, as contained in Mr. Warner’s email, for government housing to be allocated to certain persons and

·   Mr. George gives as the reason so using his authority as Chairman of HDC to assist Mr. Warner, the fact that “we may need him in the future for assistance.”

I am of the view that having regard to the contents of the email, Mr. George appears to have breached the provisions of the Integrity in Public Life Act, namely Sections 24(1)(a)(b); (2)(a)(c)(d) and 26.”

The letter from the Opposition added that: “Mr. George’s conduct, in exercising the power of his office to unfairly benefit a particular group of persons, identified by Mr. Warner in his email, in exchange for what appears to be benefits from Mr. Warner, appears to be in contravention the express provisions of the Integrity in Public Life Act and the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act…

And continued that: “It appears from the conduct of Mr. George that there may have been a contravention of these sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act which are both serious and grave.

Mr. George’s conduct also appears to be in breach of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago’s clear policy for the allocation of houses as contained in Cabinet Minute dated September 25, 2008, wherein the Minister with responsibility for housing is the only functionary vested with powers to allocate houses and only under special circumstances.”

The Opposition Leader has also caused a letter to be written to the Commissioner of Police requesting the launch of a full investigation into the evidence that points to serious abuse of public office, and outright corruption.

Making matters worse for the Rowley PNM, at the UNC’s Monday Night Forum in San Fernando on 6th June 2016, the former Prime Minister told Rowley that if he is incapable of performing his functions, she would gladly do it for him in the public interest.

Opposition doing the Government’s job

In an unprecedented move, Persad-Bissessar volunteered to draft the Bill for Parliament for the separation of the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund, something that Rowley has failed to do even after six months of taking the retrograde step of taking almost TT$12 billion from national savings.

Without a word, it was discovered that the Rowley PNM has already, very quietly taken TT$2.5 billion from the HSF.

Absolutely no word on what the funds were used for, and whether there is a policy governing the free-hand that is now casually spending our savings.

Persad-Bissessar also told Rowley that his failure to bring a Cabinet Note to approve payments to the families of fallen Police Officers can be saved by the Office of the Leader of the Opposition having already drafted the Note.

The former Prime Minister told Rowley that he can have the Note, without cost, just so that the issue can be fully addressed, and the families can receive compensation payments.

Never before has a Government so failed, that the Opposition was left with no choice but to draft Legislation and Cabinet Notes to ensure transparency and the fulfilment of promises.

The Rowley PNM has failed to initiate a single investment related, revenue generating, a beneficial project in nine months, and has done nothing but spend everything it found and had nothing to do with earning since taking office.

The Rowley PNM has even failed at accounting for money that was spent before their time, with an outright distortion to the Parliament by Stuart Young being revealed, with no response whatsoever from the Government, and no move to censure by the puppet Speaker, Bridgid Annisette-George.

Stuart Young said to the Parliament on the Point Fortin Highway in a researched, prepared statement on 1st April 2016 that: “Over $5 billion has been spent, with only 49 percent of the construction completed.”

However, by Wednesday 1st June Stephen Gardiner, the PNM’s Deputy Chairman of National Infrastructure Company (NIDCO), told the Public Accounts (Enterprises) Committee of Parliament that a total of $3.7 billion has been spent and 61 percent of the project completed.

So, with the Rowley PNM’s notoriety for misleading the Parliament and breaching Privilege, the nation is left to ask, which statement was the lie, and which was the estimation of ‘a version of some truth’?

But the frightening news of terrible economic management only gets worse.

The former Prime Minister told the UNC Monday Night Forum that Energy Sector executives are worried over the Rowley PNM’s apparent failure to understand what has driven the resurgence of oil and gas exploration.

It is also being suggested that the Rowley PNM is preparing a fire-sale of CLICO assets to deep-pocked PNM insiders, with Tru Valu, Republic Bank, and Angostura being readied for the enrichment of PNM financiers.

Even TSTT is said to be on the chopping block, with the Rowley PNM said to be preparing the State’s Communication network for sale to private business interests.

The Rowley PNM has effectively introduced the concept of ‘Welfare-Cabinet’, spending from savings and declining earnings; selling off assets and doing nothing to earn new revenue, invest or grow.

This in itself creates a torturous picture of medium term prospects. And as optimism wanes, the nation is left gun-shy about tempting fate by asking ‘…could it possibly get worse?’

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