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Rowley: Calder Hart fiasco derailed PNM
Opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley says the PNM would have been still in government had it not been for the Urban Development Corporation (Udecott) Calder Hart fiasco. He also promised that such level of corruption would not take place under his watch and declared it was his last term as Opposition Leader as he was “applying for the position of Prime Minister.”
Rowley said had it been his call in 2008 he would have fired the entire Udecott board and put a new board in place. He also noted that the PNM was in the process of reviewing the party’s Vision 2020 plan which was almost completed. He said so during a Rotary Club luncheon at Goodwill Industries, Fitzblackman Drive, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. He also reiterated if he became the next prime minister he would have a smaller Cabinet and get rid of three ministries.
“The next PNM government will abolish the Ministry of Local Government. We will abolish the Ministry of Tobago Development... this is not a ministry. It is a political unit of the Government trying to parallel the THA. “We are going to abolish the Ministry of Diversity and whatever else nonsense that exists in that ministry,” Rowley said. He said when the Local Government Ministry is abolished, its operations would be absorbed into the Ministry of Finance.
“What that means is that the Ministry of Finance will fund local government on a formula we would work out, on the basis that local government would be given serious responsibility and that responsibility will come in the maintenance of public buildings, maintenance of human-resource records, so that you know who is unemployed in those areas under the watchful eye of the executive of that area,” Rowley added.
A small Cabinet, Rowley said, would allow for more focus on public sector reform which was urgently required. He added: “This explosion of ministries has had the effect of destroying the Public Service and also the Parliament has become extremely ineffective. It was not effective before but it’s worse now. “When I came into politics three decades ago, the national budget was under a billion dollars. Today the budget is $60-odd billion.
“Every 12 months the Government pumps that amount of money into the system but the management arrangements for that are basically the same as they were when the budget was $300 million... that has to be madness and that needs urgent attention.” He said parliamentarians must also be paid properly to avoid an MP having to “kiss up” to the Prime Minister to be a member of the Cabinet. Such a person, Rowley added, would be useless to the Parliament and the country.
He said changes in Parliament, Cabinet and local government would result in overall changes for the country, including more efficient and effective social-services delivery.