Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says he will not fire Youth Development Minister Foster Cummings over allegations of fraudulent land deals and the depositing of $4 million into a credit union account.
In a fierce defence of Cummings, Rowley said he spoke with Cummings about both issues and was satisfied that everything was above board based on the evidence the minister provided.
Speaking at a People’s National Movement meeting in Arima on Tuesday night, Rowley accused Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar of attempting to bring Cummings into disrepute.
Similar attacks were mounted against Faris Al-Rawi and Stuart Young, Rowley said.
Saying the PNM was built on sound principles of morality, Rowley said the Opposition was “desperate and angry.”
“A significant number of her associates have serious difficulty with the law. One AG was charged and is on bail and he is an advisor to the party. Another one is also on bail. A specialist investigator was sworn in to pursue white-collar crime and there was panic in the UNC,” he said.
He said Persad-Bissessar continues to create issues based on malice.
“She went from Faris to Foster. She says Foster must go. And the Prime Minister is accused of doing nothing. The first issue was that money was deposited by Foster in an account into a credit union. OK, that’s a fact. If money is deposited and government-watching agencies see money deposited and want to know what is the meaning of it, they go and ask questions. But she raises the issue on a platform,” Rowley said.
Nevertheless, he said he questioned Cummings on the issue.
“I ask the minister what is this about, bring the evidence and after looking at it, I realise that Kamla is making a horse’s rear end of herself.”
He said Cummings was also accused of land fraud.
“They say he has three pieces of HDC land that he has grabbed. He bought one from HDC and he must go because Kamla says so. You scandalised the man’s name and misled the country on the basis of ifs. And demanding that I act on your ifs. The hypocrisy drips like green bile you know.”
Meanwhile, Cummings also earlier lashed out at the allegations, saying, “Who thief more than them?”
He said he will not be distracted by the noise, noting that several programmes for youths are being rolled out as the UNC attempts to distract citizens.
He said Cabinet has approved the establishment of a National Youth development agency.
“Young people, we have your back. We have started the refurbishment of the Persto Praesto youth camp and Chatham youth camp. So young people require certain skills and vocational training and other programmes to get into a residential setting. We will establish the El Dorado camp for girls,” he said.
Arima MP Pennelope Beckles also promised constituents that there will be improvements to their water supply.