MP Chaguanas East Constituency
People’s National Movement (PNM) leader Dr Keith Rowley says law enforcement and accountability are two priorities he will pursue if he were to become the next prime minister. “We have not been holding our managers accountable,” he said during a public meeting of the Port-of-Spain North/St Ann’s West constituency at Belmont Secondary School on Wednesday night, as he continued his re-election campaign bid for the party’s May 18 national executive elections.
Saying he had no doubt of a PNM victory at the polls in 2015, Rowley said when he becomes prime minister he will hold managers accountable. “Until people are held accountable, our circumstances will not improve.” Rowley is expected to face a strong challenge from former senator and Arima MP Pennelope Beckles-Robinson in the elections, which will be held for the first time under the one-man-one-vote system.
Beckles, who is being supported by several former PNM ministers and other individuals, confirmed her decision to contest to the executive of the Arima constituency on Wednesday night and to the women’s league executive on Thursday. She is the chair of that arm of the party. Rowley, in his address, said he was seeking the support of party members on the basis of his track record of success and failure, and his opponents must also be examined on theirs.
“Choose the best man or woman for the job,” he advised members. He responded to criticisms by many that he did not smile and was always serious, saying if he were to be retained as leader after the elections he will give the country a broad smile.
Responding to a question from a member of the audience, Rowley said his PNM government will commit to redeveloping Port-of-Spain after the PP Government had been treating it like an offence. He said the physical condition of the capital was one of the social problems in Port-of-Spain.
Rowley told his audience the cycle of crime and hopelessness in the capital city will be broken by the election of a PNM government. As an example of his plans for the capital, Rowley said the Food Production Ministry in St Clair will be relocated to allow for the construction of a four-or five-star hotel there.
He accused the Government of neglect over the recent fires at the Beetham landfill and also questioned how cocaine could have been taken from someone’s stomach by doctors but no one has as yet been charged. “These are crimes committed against the people,” he said in reference to recent media reports that a man had surgery to remove cocaine pellets from his stomach, and was then allowed to leave with the illicit drug.
Rowley also raised the issues of the Petrotrin oil leaks, saying officials were protected instead of being made to account. The country, he added, was being destroyed because of the lack of basic law enforcement but if the laws were enforced, “overnight, the quality of life in this country will change.” There are no longer any consequences for serious action, he said, but when he became prime minister only the law-abiding citizens will control him.
Rowley also said the recommendations of the Constitution Commission, including electing senators via a system of proportional representation, were only intended to benefit the PP Government, and the Opposition would resist them.