Mounting calls for removal of the curfew and the state of emergency will be discussed today at a meeting of the National Security Council which Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has summoned. Speaking at a media briefing at Piarco Airport after her return from Australia yesterday, Persad-Bissessar announced that the National Security Council would meet at 2.30 pm today. In the last few weeks, there have been calls from the trade union movement and other groups to remove the state of emergency and curfew. In the business sector, the T&T Chamber and T&T Manufacturers' Association (TTMA) have both indicated that the curfew should be removed because of the upcoming Christmas into Carnival season, though the SoE is not as much of an issue.
Yesterday, Persad-Bissessar said while she had been overseas at the CHOGM and other stops, she had been briefed by ministers about the mounting calls in T&T for removal of the SoE and curfew. "My ministers have been briefing me on the ongoing debate on whether to continue or not," she said. "When we established the state of emergency, it was not a political decision. "It was a decision taken after consultation with the protective services and therefore any change in that status will be have to be after consultation with those protective service heads and I will be so guided." Persad- Bissessar added: "Indeed, I have scheduled a meeting tomorrow at 2.30 pm of the National Security Council and that matter will be up for discussion.
"It is not within my knowledge nor appropriate to say 'Yea' or 'Nay'. It has to be done based on the information of the security services of T&T and it is an item for discussion tomorrow." The PM also said the Police Commissioner had a deadline for reporting on the issue of taped comments by Works Minister Jack Warner regarding the FIFA/Bin Hamman issue. Persad-Bissessar said she will be briefed on that issue. Persad-Bissessar arrived home yesterday afternoon bearing news that $1 billion had been deposited in T&T's bank account from payments owed by BP which she had obtained during her trip. This followed her talks with BP officials in Australia and London.
She also said T&T will pursue discussions with Nigeria regarding air links. She said direct T&T-Nigeria flights take only five hours, while it currently takes much longer to get between both countries. T&T will also be signing a memorandum of understanding with India regarding air links. Persad- Bissessar said the Government had been invited to India and will pursue the initiative then. She said T&T will also host a conference of energy ministers of the Commonwealth next year to explore strategies and attract investment. Persad-Bissessar also said the Gaspin group was seeking a T&T-based initiative to set up a plant to sell LNG to other small Caricom states.
She said the firm found the gas pipeline up the Caribbean, which had been suggested by the PNM Government, was not feasible. Persad-Bissessar defended her travelling, saying as this country's CEO, she had to market T&T. She said she had not travelled as much as other Prime Ministers. Persad-Bissessar said she was unaware there were so many T&T nationals living in Australia. She said her delegation had been hosted by one group for Divali and T&T nationals in Perth had launched a section of Tribe's Carnival band. During the press conference, National Security Minister John Sandy said yesterday's Express story about state helicopters was wrong. He listed nine inaccuracies.