House Speaker Wade Mark will deliver a ruling at the next Lower House session on the request by Opposition Leader Keith Rowley to have People's Partnership MP Anil Roberts investigated by Parliament's Privileges Committee. During yesterday's House session, Rowley called for Roberts to be investigated for remarks Roberts made recently in Parliament. This concerned Roberts' allegation that Rowley used his ministerial power in 2003 to "overrule" Town and Country Planning Division and grant approval for a 15 storey tower complex at Bayshore.
Roberts claimed that Joseph Rahael, son of former PNM Minister John Rahael, was involved in the development. Rowley said yesterday he had explained that the approval was given in 2005, two years after he ceased to be Planning minister and had also pointed out other facts supported by documents.
He reiterated that he never issued any directive to Town and Country Planning division. Notwithstanding all the information he had submitted, Rowley said, Roberts has persisted in making the statements.
Saying Roberts was making a desperate attempt to "manufacture" information to damage him, Rowley contended that Roberts had wilfully and deliberately misled the House and grossly abused freedom of speech in the House.
Mark said he would rule on the issue at the next session. Roberts, who held a media briefing at 3 pm, said he had attempted to deliver a statement on the issue at yesterday's House, but he said this was not allowed by the Speaker. While Roberts said he respected the Speaker's decision, he felt he had to clear his name which was being sullied by Rowley in the public domain. Roberts alleged Rowley had "attempted to hoodwink" the public on the issue since he had disclaimed giving final approval. But, Roberts said, his claims had pertained to outline approval and not final approval.
He claimed Rowley chose to ignore the outline approval aspect and focused on the fact that final approval occurred under his successor former PNM Minister Camille Robinson-Regis. Roberts claimed the outline approval he spoke of, was given on July 11, 2003 when Rowley was Planning minister. Roberts also claimed Joseph Rahael and Woodguill Developers formed a new joint company called Shorelands Development Company Ltd which received outline approval on that date.