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Rowley at meeting in support of elections’ slate: Penny a UNC investment
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley says Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, who is challenging him for the top post in the party’s May 18 internal elections, is a United National Congress investment. He said so while speaking at a meeting on Monday in support of his slate of candidates for national executive elections at Arima North Government Primary School.
The comment seemed an obvious reference to Beckles-Robinson’s attendance at a recent UNC curry-duck lime and the many public comments made by officials of the ruling party in support of her candidacy. Rowley sacked Beckles-Robinson as leader of opposition business in the Senate last December, leading to her subsequent announcement of her candidacy for the party’s top post.
During Monday’s meeting, Rowley said the role of Opposition Leader was not for someone nice but the toughest and roughest bulldog in the country. The UNC, in a recent statement, had called on Rowley to desist from bullying Beckles-Robinson in the campaign. He responded at the meeting, saying: “I understand their position. if you made an investment you will want to protect your returns.”
He then advised the UNC to keep its “snotty nose out of PNM business” and accused the party, which is led by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, of not holding its internal elections for more than a year after they were due. Rowley then called on Beckles-Robinson to join him in condemnation of the controversial issues sacked national security minister Jack Warner was involved in while serving as FIFA vice-president.
On Monday, the UK Telegraph newspaper claimed Warner was paid almost US$2 million by a company controlled by a former football official from Qatar after that country won its bid to host the 2022 World Cup. “Get up and tell this country about your views on Jack Warner, if you name woman. And get up and join me on the NGC/WASA matter that I am now prosecuting,” Rowley dared Beckles-Robinson.
Key debate next week
He called on citizens to assemble outside Parliament on Friday to protest the Government’s decision to spend $1.6 billion on a water recycling plant at Beetham. He is expected to lead off debate on a private motion on the matter on that day. Rowley insisted the Government must tell citizens why they must pay $1.6 billion when the plant could be built for $95 million. He noted that newspaper advertisements have been put out to convince citizens that everything was above board and transparent about the project.
Rowley contended it was not impossible for leaders to steal public money. “If you all think officers do not steal public money and deplete what is available for people in the country, ask yourself where is the current arrangement taking T&T,” he said. He said there must be “a serious resistance and pushback to what’s happening,” urging citizens to pay attention to the motion he is bringing.
“Come and stand outside the Parliament and tell Government you are horrified, you will have none of it and they must account for that they are doing with your money,” he added. Rowley said the matter was worse than Section 34, adding that the emailgate fiasco, which he raised in Parliament last May, was never investigated to determine if it were true or not and the Government had only issued statements claiming that the e-mails were not authentic.
Rowley said the chief investigator in that case, Deputy Commissioner Mervyn Richardson, had since retired from the service and was now making more money than he ever made before. He told the crowd he was also eagerly awaiting the conclusion of a review by Finance and the Economy Minister Larry Howai of the recent First Citizens Initial Public Offer (IPO). The review, he said, was initiated after he asked questions about the allocation of shares in the IPO.