Planning, Housing and the Environment Minister Emily Gaynor Dick-Forde has said Prime Minister Patrick Manning will not be engaged in corrupt activities at a controversial church in the Heights of Guanapo because his opponents would have him locked up.
When asked whether she had made checks into allegations about the private church being linked to the State-owned Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott) that fell under her ministerial portfolio, Dick-Forde said: "No, well, I do not even know what is the controversy. I do not know what the controversy is." After being informed that residents in the area claimed to have seen Manning make repeated visits to the church, Dick-Forde responded: "Ent the Prime Minister has said that he is a Christian? What is the problem?"
When told that it was alleged that the Prime Minister had interests in the church, Dick-Forde said: "Why would you reach there because the Prime Minister has been on-site?" She added that she was unaware that Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner made allegations that the church was being built on state lands. "From my knowledge of my Prime Minister is that he does everything properly and correctly because if he does not all these people who are opponents to him would have had him locked up a long time.
"He is a very proper person and anything he is doing would have been above board," Dick-Forde said. "The onus is therefore on Mr Warner to prove if what he says is so... The burden of proof is on him," she added. Dick-Forde agreed to be interviewed by the T&T Guardian after yesterday's sitting of the Senate. She maintained there was no concern about allegations the work being done on the church by Chinese immigrant workers from the Shanghai Construction Company, which Udecott contracted.