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Rowley to Persad-Bissessar: Tell us if you want to be T&T’s President
Opposition Leader Keith Rowley has called on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to say whether she harbours any ambitions to become President as he has received information to this effect. Rowley made the call at Tuesday’s PNM meeting in Arima. Rowley said he was “selling the information “ just as he “bought it.” “My information is the Prime Minister has an interest in the presidency of T&T. I call on the Prime Minister to say if I’m wrong,” he added.
Rowley said everytime citizens saw Minister Jack Warner, who has acted as PM in Persad-Bissessar’s absence, “he is reminding you he is acting PM.” He said Government was conditioning citizens to accept Warner as Prime Minister. He said Persad-Bissessar was apparently of the view the President had no work to do: “And is it a work where you can party, sleep late and make speeches and eat and drink. That’s their idea of the presidency and my information is that the Prime Minister has an interest in the position of President.
“I am asking my colleague from Siparia to tell the people if she harbours that ambition. We want to know,” he added. Saying T&T was being conditioned into accepting her replacement, Rowley said Warner had said four times in a recent speech he was the acting PM. “That’s subliminal mind-conditioning,” Rowley added.
He said when Warner went to visit hospitalised former president Arthur NR Robinson, the acting PM also claimed Robinson had told him he had given life to the Government. Rowley said Warner appeared to signal Robinson was endorsing him for the post of Prime Minister. Rowley noted Robinson had formulated the code of ethics for MPs. He questioned if T&T would get foreign investment if Warner was Prime Minister.
He also called on the PM and other ministers to say who would be the accounting officer for Government’s $410 million constituency development fund which would give MPs $10 million to do constituency projects. He raised various queries about the fund. Saying the fund will create corruption, he said it was a means of buying votes for next year’s Tobago House of Assembly and Local Government elections as the PP’s popularity had dropped.
Rowley said while Tobago funding was under the PNM-controlled Tobago House of Assembly, the fund would allow the two Tobago PP MPs $10 million each which might be used to shore up their support for THA polls. “Pure pork-barrelling politics,” Rowley said. He said the fund would give the PP $290 million for their 29 seats and $120 million for PNM’s 12 seats.
He said he would only take the funds under duress and protest and was objecting to this “naked insidious corruption scheme.” Rowley said the situation called Finance Minister Larry Howai into question as he was doing Government’s bidding to undertake the fund and was “putty” in PP’s hands.” He said his predecessor Winston Dookeran might have rejected it. He said if the PNM and UNC administrations had not pursued the idea of the fund, it was because it was a bad idea.
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