Monday 18 February, 2019

Charles slams OAS 'embarrassment', says Moses must go

Naparima MP and former ambassador to the UN, Rodney Charles, says CARICOM and Foreign Affairs Minister Dennis Moses should be fired immediately after the 'embarrassment' at a recent OAS conference. 

In a statement issued Tuesday, Charles said the decision to vote against a plea made by Dominica OAS representative Judith Anne Rolle to waive fees for two years, was a "total embarrassment to our country".

"Clearly he is not up to the task of the ministerial responsibilities assigned to him and this is demonstrated at the OAS, by the appointment of a novice in Geneva, by our ambivalence towards opportunities presenting themselves in neighbouring Guyana, by our one-sided support to Maduro, and what may occur at the UN," Charles said. 

He said Dominica, a fellow CARICOM state, made the plea for leniency in light of the devastation experienced in the wake of hurricane Maria.

Every other country at the OAS supported Dominica's request except Trinidad and Tobago.

"T&T's objection made by Ambassador Anthony Phillips-Spencer caught Dominica’s representative at the OAS Judith Anne Rolle by total surprise. She appeared unable to understand the incomprehensible position taken by our Government."

"This especially in the light of our previous generosity in offering hassle free residence, education in our schools and free medical attention in our health institutions to Dominicans whose homes were devastated," Charles said.

He said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley must say whether the country owes the state of New York City "hundreds of thousands of US dollars in penalties and arrears of taxes owed from the rental of part of the UN Mission to New York".

"If not immediately resolved, this can lead to the sale of the UN Mission property since commercial transactions are not subject to normal diplomatic immunities. This would do irreparable damage to our image at the UN. No one will take us seriously," he said. 

Charles said part of the UN mission in New York is rented at approximately $30,000 US per month and property taxes must be paid on these rents.

"Financial regulations require that all rents are sent to the T&T Ministry of Finance and the Ministry would then pay. This problem has occurred in the past due to frequent delays in getting the T&T Ministry of Finance to pay the property taxes owed on the rents on-time. Steps were taken to avert a sale."

"Apparently the measures taken at that time are no longer being used and we can lose a property for which we paid US $12.8 million in 2013 and which is now valued at over US $23 million."

"If our Mission is sold that will be a major international embarrassment. It will be another CEPEP situation which occurred recently, but this time on a global stage," he said.

Charles said in light of these issues, it appears Moses is not fit for duty.

"Clearly Minister Moses is not up to the task of the ministerial responsibilities assigned to him and this is demonstrated at the OAS, by the appointment of a novice in Geneva, by our ambivalence towards opportunities presenting themselves in neighbouring Guyana, by our one sided support to Maduro, and what may occur at the UN."

"Minister Moses may be a childhood friend of the Prime Minister but clearly Dr Rowley must realize by now that putting personal friendships ahead of our country's interests can have devastating consequences for our international image, our economic well-being and our self-esteem," he said.

Meanwhile, Moses addressed the issue in a statement issued Thursday, saying that he regretted the "misrepresentation" made by Trinidad and Tobago at the meeting.

He said the position presented at the meeting is "not aligned with the actions, policy or orientation of Trinidad and Tobago towards Dominica".

He reaffirmed Trinidad and Tobago's "unwavering support for Dominica, tangibly demonstrated in our recent aid and expressions of empathy to that country".

 

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