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Minister misleading public says Fitun
The Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs (Fitun) has condemned Works Minister Emmanuel George for what it defines as “misleading statements.” George was quoted in media reports yesterday as saying the review in essence said the highway should be constructed.
An independent review committee headed by Independent senator Dr James Armstrong was set up by the Joint Consultative Council (JCC) to review the Debe to Mon Desir leg of the San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway, after a three-week impasse between the Government and Dr Wayne Kublalsingh. The committee was appointed to conduct the review in 60 days.
George said the review found the route proposed by the Government to be superior and that it allayed fears that ecological damage and flooding would occur as a consequence of the highway's construction. He also said the committee appeared to take issue with the authorities’ approach to the highway construction.
But in a release yesterday, Fitun condemned George for his “obscene political spin” on the highway re-route issue.
It said: “As one of the recognised and prominent civil society organisations that joined with the Joint Consultative Council (JCC) in averting the grave political fallout from the extended hunger strike by Kublalsingh, we feel compelled to say to the public that the minister was very economical with the truth when he stated that the highway review committee gave the go-ahead for the Debe to Mon Desir link of the highway.
“From the report that we have read, it is pellucidly clear that there was never any statement by the committee to that effect.” It said the Government committed a breach of trust, since it was agreed that the report would first be submitted to the National Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (Nidco) and those involved were to refrain from public comments on the matter before it was published by the JCC.
“As far as Ffitun is concerned, all other parties held firm to their side of the agreement with the exception of the Government,” the release said. “What is of even more concern to Fitun is that this attempt to mislead the population was done immediately after a Cabinet meeting at a post-Cabinet press conference.
“That suggests to us that the minister’s statement was a representation of the views of the entire Cabinet...This is very disturbing in the light of the commitment that was made by parties concerned in the matter.” The union said the JCC and Nidco were withholding publication of the report, since there were procedural issues to work out.
Signed by president Joseph Remy, the release questioned George’s intent in making the statement and said, “The report does not contain any statement to the effect that the committee has given the ‘go-ahead’ for the Debe to Mon Desir link of the San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway.”
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