Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has said that Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar cannot deny having knowledge that massive amounts of monies were being paid out in legal fees at the office of the Attorney General during her tenure as prime minister from 2010 to 2015.
He made the statement on Tuesday night during a PNM political meeting at the Signature Hall, Chaguanas.
Rowley said when he was Opposition Leader he brought it to the attention of Persad-Bissessar that the budget for the office of the AG rose from $20 million a year before the UFF inquiry to $60 million then by mid-year to $84 million and then to $100 million by the end of the year.
Rowley said despite his pleas, Persad-Bissessar failed to stop the haemorrhage of funds.
He said, “Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar was there when every query was made from the very first one to $100 million. And I tell you worse when it got to $100 million they said it was all about fighting corruption, PNM corruption because as far as they concerned it has PNM law and UNC law, it has PNM corruption and UNC corruption. But I made the statement then it would be a hell of a thing that the money you are spending to fight corruption becomes itself the catalyst for more corruption, so say, so done.”
He added: “Because at $100 million a year, if they had kept it on that level, it would have been $500 million, they tripled it $1.6 billion and Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar sat there and approved it every single year. And what is worse when Anand Ramlogan crashed she looked around for an AG including one in the Parliament.”
Rowley said the Life Sport Programme also went up from its proposed $6 million budget to $400 million. He said that too was riddled with controversy.
The PM also knocked the UNC for not supporting Government’s legislation to fight corruption despite the rising crime.
Rowley said the police raids, conducted in Gulf City, was not connected in any way to the UNC. “I can tell you now what happened at Gulf View had nothing whatsoever to do with the UNC problem in the court house. This is a completely separate matter involving life and limb and serious criminality,” he also said.
The Prime Minister said there are provisions in the law for the police to enter without a warrant in order to preserve life.
He cited a recent example when police entered a house to prevent a man from chopping a woman.
“The man died, the woman had six or seven chops and apparently this man was prepared to chop her like a dead pig, under our certain circumstances a warrant may not be required if the exigencies of the circumstances require that you intervene.”
He said the Opposition and certain religion leaders jumped on the bandwagon with the intention of dividing T&T along religious and ethnic lines.
He said. “One Pundit has to say if was Westmoorings how come no police ever go into Westmoorings. That does not help out people, it does not put our children on s strong footing. What it tells the children, especially the children of East Indian heritage that they are being discriminated against and they are second class, that Pundit never heard of the drug raid in Westmoorings where people were arrested and surprised all of us that they had so much drugs in Westmoorings. That pundit didn’t hear that it was a Westmoorings house that the police broke in and took out 19 young ladies.”
He said despite his Government being criticised, they have been able to do a lot with fewer funds, managing to stay clear of the IMF and not defaulted on its debt repayments.
He also said—
•$1 billion spent monthly in public sector wages and a $5 billion loan was taken to pay back-pay to public servants.
•The BrianLara Academy should be getting ICC recognition soon.
• 22 schools’ projects are about to be restarted.
•Highways to Point Fortin and Valencia are under construction.
•Contracts have been awarded for the Point Fortin Highway from the Point Fortin end to the Mosquito Creek.
- by Sashtri Boodan