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Flooded with intrigue—Roodal, Al-Rawi, Young etc

Saturday, October 21, 2017

If their Parliamentary colleagues missed them from yesterday’s Standing Finance Committee meeting, Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar (and UNC’s Roodal Moonilal) were on other duty calls: awash in flood waters with constituents.

Prime Minister Keith Rowley was trapped in yesterday’s second to last SFC session—examining 2018 Budget allocations to Ministries—with his Prime Minister’s Office listed for scrutiny.

Not to be outdone by Opposition play, he made it out in time to address media on the flood issue.

Persad-Bissessar who’d missed all of the SFC meetings, was absent at Monday’s start of proceedings when PNM’s Camille Robinson-Regis plunked a bottle of Limacol on Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s desk.

Imbert may indeed have needed the cool-down this week between casino workers “boarding” his home and the Opposition’s meticulous SFC Budget scrutiny. (The bottle was nowhere to be seen by yesterday).

Prior to the showers, with Budget focus, neither Government or Opposition had seemed in the mood for Parliamentary observances of Divali. Colourful outfits at extreme minimum. The PNM had no Divali function—first time since 2015—and several PNMites opted out of Divali functions.

Both sides were likely also occupied with recent non-Budget matters concerning alleged text and emails which have raised questions and pitfalls for the political landscape ahead.

Moonilal’s allegation of public officials seeking to tap/burglarise UNC Senator Gerald Ramdeen’s office, (and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi’s “fabrication” denial) received correspondingly loud reply from Robinson-Regis, reading a search warrant concerning Moonilal in Parliament.

There’s also the question of abuse of Parliamentary privilege covering the situation and whether public disclosure of the warrant could prejudice possible proceedings or cause loss of material the warrant was meant to secure. Questions they haven’t answered (or been asked).

Mark Adams the alleged “whistleblower” in Moonilal’s allegations about Ramdeen’s office, named several UNC jefes as friends. He said when he allegedly met Al-Rawi he’d “...played along, giving him a story, told him what he wanted to hear and said ‘yes’ to everything he asked.”

National Security officials will have to say if Adams—who’s been upfront about his criminal background—also gave LifeSport information in the PP’s term.

The day Adams’ claims broke, several Ministers including OPM’s Stuart Young, put space between Government and the accusations, referring queries strictly to Al-Rawi (who’s kept his “powder dry” so far with limited responses.)

Within hours that day, Government shifted the spotlight: to its party’s suspension of longstanding member Harry↔Ragoonanan and alleged PTSC↔matters. Message there: nobody’s above the law.

Former PTSC chairman Terrence Beepath said Ragoonanan talked to him about getting business some time after he was appointed chairman in June 2016. “He wanted me to help. But it wasn’t considered. Businessmen usually do that—try to use political influence to do business and offer products. But you don’t have to consider them.”

Ragoonanan says he received PNM’s suspension notification Tuesday. He confirmed he’d contacted Beepath in 2016, but “it wasn’t an official specific offer. I had no agency though I’d considered contacting Mercedes Benz.”

Post-Ragoonanan, Government redirected the spotlight on Monday—with word of civil action against several contractors, naming Moonilal in allegations, with clear warning the matter was also sent to the police. Moonilal who watched the televised briefing on the issue, had rapid responses subsequently.

“I came prepared,” Moonilal added, saying he’d also prepared for three months on the matter concerning Ramdeen’s office and Adams’ allegations.

None of the “plays” which began in the last week are concluded and are in fact, now starting.

Following SFC and Senate Budget debate conclusions next week, what’s next? Secret audios and more “texts”?


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