PM on Appeal Court rulings: Opposition attempted to create chaos

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - 13:15

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has lashed out against members of the Opposition he believes are using the court to "further their political gains" and has vowed that the government will fight every such legal battle all the way to the Privy Council.

Dr Rowley was speaking at today's post-Cabinet media conference, soon after the Appeal Court delivered a judgement allowing the State to resume collection of property tax valuation forms.

It was the second judgement by the Appeal Court in two days, favouring the State.

Dr Rowley suggested that there are former government ministers who are now in the Opposition who "have identified the courts as the place to go to create as much mayhem as possible with a view that in creating this climate of disturbance it will be in their favour".

"I say as Head of the Executive, that I will defend the country against such excursions," he said.

On the property tax issue, he said that the current government had told the country in 2015 that the property tax was fair and that it will be collecting the tax.

But, he said, the Opposition appears to want to carry out the policy it had in government, to waive the collection of the tax.

"I am saying we will have none of it. The Opposition will not run this country," Dr Rowley said.

He said the State loses $500 million every year and has lost $3.5 billion in the last seven years with the tax not being collected.

"We believe that at the end of the day, the average citizen of this country will support the government's initiative to collect a reasonable tax," Dr Rowley said.

He also weighed in on the court ruling regarding the appointment of two judges.

Justice Frank Seepersad had initially ruled in favour of attorneys representing former minister Devant Maharaj, who argued that the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC) was unconstitutionally and illegally comprised with the presence of two retired judges- Roger Hamel-Smith and Humphrey Stollmeyer.

However, the Appeal Court later ruled against Justice Seepersad's position, allowing the appointments to proceed today.

Dr Rowley told the media that those judges had been on the JLSC during the last government.

"Those two former high court judges were there in those positions under the administration of the last government. Apparently, they were not an annoyance to the government then. They are only now an annoyance all of a sudden," he said.

He said that had these two matters on the JLSC and property tax gone in favour of those who approached the court, "this country would have been in chaos".

"That is why the Cabinet met on Wednesday (today) because if the ruling was different, then our response would have been quite different as well," he said.