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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley makes a point while speaking in the House of Representatives.

The Government has once again retained the services of lobbyist group DC LLCC at a cost of US$1.2 million annually to access the corridors of power in decision-making in Washington DC.

The revelation was made yesterday by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley in the House of Representatives, who was at the time responding to a question from Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

The Opposition Leader asked the PM about further payments, inclusive of amounts made to group DC LLCC after the expiry of the initial contract which ended in October 2018, as well as the nature of those services provided.

According to PM Rowley, the Government of T&T maintains active engagement in Washington using our embassy there “and a lobbyist who worked for the Government of T&T.”

That contract, Rowley said ended in 2018.

“Following the expiration of that contract Cabinet agreed to a further engagement of this company DC LLCC.”

Rowley said, “the arrangement is that we pay quarterly of US$300,000 and we receive constant reports which are extremely valuable particular at this time.”

In October 2016, the Government entered into a US$2.4 million (over TT$16 million) agreement with the group to provide lobbying services for this country.

Quizzed by Persad-Bissessar if those services required him to ring the bell at Nasdaq at the Stock Market in New York last year, the PM said “contrary to the misinformation that has been presented to the country by the UNC that we paid millions of dollars for Nasdaq and now implicating the group DC LLCC with Nasdaq. I want to put on the record that the group DC LLCC had absolutely nothing to do with our involvement and my presence at Nasdaq. And I hope that the misinformation and mischief would end there.”

Pressed as to what T&T stands to benefit from retaining DC LLCC’s services, Rowley said it would involve T&T retaining access to the corridors of power in decision making in Washington.

Only recently US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid a visit to Jamaica and met with some Caribbean leaders. However, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados were among a number of Caribbean countries not invited to that meeting.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley as chairman of Caricom accused the US of trying to divide the region. A charge denied by Pompeo.

A mere handful of the 15 Caricom nations—the Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and St Lucia—were part of the discussions, along with the Dominican Republic.