Despite the Government claiming victory in the Piarco International Airport trial in the United States of America, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar expects there will be an appeal.
“We would just have to await the outcome of any appeal. You know these matters never stay there. They always appeal, so we will await the outcome of the appeal before we say more,” Persad-Bissessar said.
Speaking to Guardian Media at the Moruga/Tableland Constituency’s Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day celebrations in Moruga on Thursday, Persad-Bissessar said she did not have the benefit of reading the transcript of the judgement. Therefore, she limits her comments until she reads them. On Wednesday, Miami Dade Circuit Court Judge Reemberto Diaz awarded the State a US$100M judgment in the civil asset forfeiture trial stemming from the Piarco International Airport corruption probe.
It was a matter the PNM Government pursued in Miami since 2004 against former finance minister Brian Kuei Tung, T&T businessman Steve Ferguson and US businessman Raul Gutierrez Jr.
A jury concluded that the three defendants were liable for US$32,385,988 in damages suffered by T&T. The court granted the racketeering claims made by T&T, which trebled damages.
Meanwhile, delivering remarks at the celebrations at the Moruga Multi-Purpose Sport and Youth Facility, Persad-Bissessar said the contributions and courage of the Spiritual Shouter Baptist community have always inspired the nation and her United National Congress (UNC), which heralded some of her party’s accomplishments for the faith. Persad-Bissessar recalled that UNC declared Spiritual Shouter Baptist Liberation Day a public holiday in 1996.
She said the UNC government also constructed and opened St. Barbara’s Spiritual Shouter Baptist Primary School in 2013 and the first-ever Shouter Baptist early childhood care and education school.
“And when we form the next government, I will construct a modern secondary school for the Spiritual Shouter Baptist community. As you know, education is something very important to me and the party I lead. When we form the next government, we will continue our push to ensure all children of all ages, and indeed older persons who wish to continue learning, are afforded the opportunities to do so.”
Persad-Bissessar said the UNC’s plans for education and young people include amending curricula to include new subjects, particularly in Information Communication Technology, including coding and other digital skills.
“The new Spiritual Baptist Shouter High School will benefit from this revolution in education, as will all the secondary schools in our nation. The greatest gift we can give to the young ones in the Baptist community is a good education. That is the only way to continue the upliftment of the faith.”
Persad-Bissessar said her People’s Partnership coalition government understood the importance of moving with the times. It was why it implemented the laptop programme. She promised to return the programme to secondary schools and ensure all primary school students have a tablet.
“This is my pledge to you. We will invest in the children of the spiritual shouter Baptist community.”