"Sorry Mr Amar" - PM clarifies Mottley involvement

Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley has pub­licly apol­o­gised to busi­ness­man Robert Amar for mak­ing an er­ror on the in­volve­ment of for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Wen­dell Mot­t­ley in the San­dals project plan.

The PM has al­so humbly apol­o­gised for not seek­ing to clar­i­fy the is­sue when it was raised by Amar dur­ing Row­ley’s con­ver­sa­tion with me­dia per­son­nel last Thurs­day at the Diplo­mat­ic Cen­tre in St Ann's.

Amar had raised the is­sue of Mot­t­ley’s in­volve­ment as head of a com­mit­tee ap­point­ed by Gov­ern­ment to over­see the deal in its ear­ly stages as the me­dia ques­tioned Row­ley on San­dal’s pull-out from To­ba­go last week. How­ev­er, the PM de­nied this was so and told Amar he had got his in­for­ma­tion wrong.

Rather, Row­ley said Mot­t­ley was on­ly in­vit­ed by the Gov­ern­ment to deal with the gas ne­go­ti­a­tions and chaired in a Cab­i­net sub-com­mit­tee on en­er­gy.

But Amar stood his ground and promised to pro­vide the proof.

Sub­se­quent­ly, a video of Row­ley an­nounc­ing the com­mit­tee on June 29, 2016, was post­ed on so­cial me­dia. In that clip­ping, Row­ley named Mot­t­ley to head the ap­point­ed com­mit­tee to deal with San­dals.

In a state­ment via the Of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter yes­ter­day, Row­ley apol­o­gised to Amar.

“An apol­o­gy is ex­tend­ed to Mr Robert Amar, who raised the name of Mr Mot­t­ley as be­ing in­volved in the San­dals project and was told he was in­cor­rect. The Prime Min­is­ter apol­o­gis­es for not clar­i­fy­ing as here­in de­scribed,” the re­lease stat­ed.

Row­ley con­firmed that in 2016 the Cab­i­net ap­point­ed Mot­t­ley to a com­mit­tee which was tasked with lead­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with San­dals. How­ev­er, he said the Gov­ern­ment did not en­ter the ne­go­ti­a­tions phase with San­dals and so "the com­mit­tee was not op­er­a­tionalised."

"Up to the point of dis­con­tin­u­a­tion of the San­dals project, the prepara­to­ry work that had to be ex­e­cut­ed was done through a Spe­cial Pur­pose Com­pa­ny (SPV) chaired by Mr Neil Wil­son in To­ba­go," Row­ley said.

"This work was main­ly site and topo­graph­i­cal sur­veys in or­der to de­ter­mine where the fa­cil­i­ties were in­tend­ed to be lo­cat­ed in or­der to ad­vance the ap­proval process at the En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Au­thor­i­ty and Town and Coun­try Plan­ning."

The PM added that un­for­tu­nate­ly, even be­fore the com­ple­tion of these nec­es­sary pre­lim­i­nary works from which the de­fin­i­tive an­swers would have emerged the brand own­ers de­clined any fur­ther par­tic­i­pa­tion and ex­po­sure.

"It should be not­ed that Mr Mot­t­ley did not get in­volved in the San­dals project as was orig­i­nal­ly in­tend­ed. He, how­ev­er, was di­rect­ed to and func­tioned very ef­fec­tive­ly as a ne­go­tia­tor on be­half of the peo­ple of Trinidad and To­ba­go on im­por­tant nat­ur­al gas ne­go­ti­a­tions mat­ters," Row­ley said.

- by Rhondor Dowlat