Sunday 22 October, 2017

Moonilal slams PM's 'finger-pointing' at JSC hearing

Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal has criticised Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s appearance before a Joint Select Committee on Monday as it continued with its investigation into the Trinidad and Tobago Inter-Island Ferry Service with specific focus on the procurement and maintenance of the fast ferries.

In a statement, the MP said the Prime Minister’s testimony was his “customary cocktail of angry rhetoric, grandstanding and finger-pointing, without accepting responsibility and initiating solutions”.

Calling on the Prime Minister to tell the nation what he has done over the past two years to save the port of Port of Spain from the “great danger” of “being obliterated,” Moonilal said Rowley must state the measures of his government to safeguard the port from the “conflict, corruption and iniquity” which he spoke of when he appeared before the Joint Select Committee on Land and Physical Infrastructure.

He said Rowley went the usual route of the blame game instead of accepting responsibility for his role in the matter.

“Dr. Rowley’s freewheeling testimony at the JSC was typical of his administration, in which he blames everyone, including the tea lady, but takes not direct responsibility for his critical and obvious failures.

He also declined to hold his much-protected Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan accountable for the “den of corruption” at the country’s largest port.”

Moonilal credited the Opposition for its extensive exposés in unearthing the scandal at the Port, stating that the country would have been none the wiser, had it not exposed the truth.  

Moonilal spared no words as he took aim at a “self-serving” Rowley who has neglected his role as the protector of the public’s interest.

“Dr. Rowley continues to present himself as self-serving, ignoring the fact that, as Prime Minister, he is the protector of the public’s interest.

This remains a fundamental and disturbing misunderstanding of his national leadership. The Prime Minister has a responsibility to identify the PNM operative who demanded the contract for provision of the inter-island vessel.”

The Opposition MP called on the Prime Minister to state whether a crime was reported to the police and whether the PNM took disciplinary action against the member involved.

“There should be no need to remind Dr. Rowley that trying to induce or bribe a Government Minister is a serious criminal offence.

The PNM activist may have felt emboldened to seek to bribe a Minister since he is well aware of the irregular manner in which the PNM has historically conducted public business.”

“A vivid example is Dr. Rowley’s telephone call to the contractor of a State enterprise who is under investigation for a $100 million scam uncovered in an internal company audit,” he added.

Moonilal also demanded an explanation of the role of “sidekick Minister of Everything Stuart Young” at the committee meeting as he could not have attended as the Prime Minister’s private counsel.