Tuesday 29 September, 2020

PM takes UNC, Express to task on Cabinet Ministers recusals

Pictured: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley speaks at a political meeting in Chaguanas on August 3, 2020.

Pictured: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley speaks at a political meeting in Chaguanas on August 3, 2020.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has criticised the United National Congress (UNC) along with the Trinidad Express Newspaper over the issue of recusals of sitting Cabinet members from participating in Cabinet notes due to conflicts of interest.

Dr Rowley at a People's National Movement (PNM) campaign meet up in Chaguanas East on Monday night spoke in defense of National Security Minister Stuart Young and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi who recused themselves 94 times due to matters involving relatives. 

The Prime Minister, who commended Young and Al-Rawi for their proactive approaching recusing themselves, slammed both UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the Express newspaper for what he labelled baseless accusations regarding alleged misbehaviour. 

As he took the newspaper to task for its reporting on Young's 57 recusals, Dr Rowley questioned how this regular action became a front page story.

"The UNC write and talk that stupidness and hand it to the Express. So, when you recuse yourself in the Cabinet you make the front page in the papers now?" 

"The recusal is part of the operation of the Cabinet. It doesn't mean you've left the Cabinet. That is the level of dotishness that is spoken by the Opposition.

The Prime Minister said there was nothing improper in the Ministers' recusals as more than a hundred notes could be reviewed during a typical Cabinet meeting. He said there was bound to be some conflict of interest given the volume of notes discussed.

Young at a media conference on Sunday again defended his decision to recuse himself and denied that his family benefitted financially or personally during his tenure as a minister under the current administration. 

Al-Rawi has not made any statement on the matter but has previously stated on the issue of property rentals to the State that he breached no law as he recused himself when Cabinet considered the rental of One Alexandra Place. 

According to a Trinidad Guardian report, Al-Rawi ceased to be a director at the family firm, Zaman Enterprises, on November 8, 2018. Talks on the leasing of the office space were restarted three weeks later. 

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