Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley must state today specifically how many jobs and investments T&T will be receiving as a result of the Caricom-Saudi Arabia summit which he attended last week, says Opposition UNC finance shadow minister Dave Tancoo.
“The country requires specifics: jobs, what will be expanded, to what extent, when. No more pie in the sky,” Tancoo added yesterday.
The Oropouche West MP and UNC chairman Tancoo (also chairman of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee) queried the tangibles produced for T&T from the Caricom-Saudi Arabia summit after Rowley returned last Saturday from the Riyadh summit.
A joint Caricom-Saudi Arabia statement last Friday stated the two regions agreed on a 15-point declaration of intent on cooperation on various issues—food security, energy and other matters—including Caricom’s support of Saudi Arabia’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo and 2034 World Cup. The United Nations General Assembly votes on November 28 on the Expo host. Saudi Arabia has been lobbying for Caricom support.
At Rowley’s October 26 media briefing, he had said that after the Caricom-Saudi Arabia summit, there would be bilateral talks with Saudi Arabia since these were in train already and one area of interest was international air travel. Last Friday’s “Arab News” stated that the Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and Climate Envoy Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir met that day with Rowley, “on the sidelines of the Saudi-Caricom Summit, where they tackled topics of common interest.” The topics were not stated.
There was no reply to Guardian Media’s WhatsApp queries on summit outcomes which were sent yesterday morning to Rowley and Ministers Stuart Young, Kazim Hosein and Dr Amery Browne who also attended the summit. Other questions pertained to whether more talks might be needed towards tangibles, if refinery investment was broached, the outcome of the Saudi Arabia bilaterals, including on transport and the Government’s response to the perception that the summit was only to woo Caricom’s support for Saudi Arabia’s World Expo bid.
Subsequently yesterday afternoon, the Office of the Prime Minister stated Rowley would hold a media briefing at 2 pm today.
However, the UNC’s Tancoo said, “It would appear between the Prime Minister’s October 26 statement—about several trips- and now, he doesn’t know if he’s coming or going. But he’s still obligated to inform citizens of his Saudi Arabia mission. He was very verbose on how critical it was for T&T therefore there are expectations. People need the specifics beyond Caricom’s general statement.”
“While Caricom took the time to do its statement, T&T’s leader couldn’t find the time to tell citizens what the trip meant for them, and brief reporters at the airport’s VIP lounge the way he used to on return. As with everything, the Government’s required accounting to the public on return from trips has become less frequent immediately after. One wonders if the PM’s experience in another country’s VIP section has made him fearful of using VIP lounges,” Tancoo added.
“The only development regarding a Middle East country we’ve heard of is the Works Ministry’s statement on an air transport agreement which T&T signed with the United Arab Emirates, a country next to Saudi Arabia.
With T&T starving for foreign direct investment and forex, business leaders, as well as citizens, would have looked forward to what the Caricom-Saudi Arabia summit produced for T&T—but people have to wait on the PM’s whim and fancy,” said Tancoo.