Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday launched a scathing attack on T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce CEO Gabriel Faria, saying he had a “disrespectful mouth” and an “acid tongue.”
The Prime Minister made the comments on his Facebook page but did not say why he attacked Faria or what prompted the post.
In the post, which amassed 336 reactions and 74 comments within two hours of posting, Rowley blasted Faria for not offering himself for public office “because he is only about himself and what he can suck from the country.”
But while disparaging Faria for not offering himself, Rowley also said if Faria did offer himself for public office “he will be dismissed with a swift kick in the pants.”
“As head of the Chamber of Commerce Gabriel Faria can have no private view which he expresses as the “known” head of the Chamber. He knows exactly what he is doing and it is him trying to influence voters with his dismissive shallowness whilst being very disrespectful to the country’s leadership,” Rowley wrote.
While there are no public reports of Faria speaking out recently about the selection process or the country’s leadership, Rowley seemed to be referring to something specific.
“If he is so disdainful of all the people who offer themselves for office through all political parties and who the population selects freely and fairly, to run their affairs, then why doesn’t he give a few years of his brilliance and perfection in service of the public interest,” the PM said.
Rowley lashed even harder at Faria, saying the population “sees him for what he is.”
“A disrespectful mouth with precious little value rattling around in the Chamber with his acid tongue,” Rowley said.
Rowley did not respond to calls or messages yesterday for clarification on what prompted the post. He also declined calls to his mobile phone.
But even Faria was blindsided by the comments when contacted yesterday.
“I have no idea what it’s about,” Faria said in response to WhatsApp questions from Guardian Media on what may have prompted Rowley’s harsh words.
But while Faria was in the dark about the attack, one Government minister pointed Guardian Media to an interview the Chamber CEO did on TTT on Monday morning, in which Faria was critical of Minister of Finance Colm Imbert.
In that segment, Faria spoke about the Mid-year Review and described the Government’s positive post-COVID-19 outlook as “unrealistic”.
Saying that the Government owed suppliers over $5 billion, Faria said, “I gave an estimate, I would love the Minister of Finance to validate or say it’s wrong. I gave an estimate that the Government owes suppliers over $5 billion. If the Government does not pay that $5 billion, then it is quite possible that he can manage his expenses.” He added, “The Government is actually trying to charge business taxes based on last year’s income. Almost every business is showing reduced business.”
Faria said that by not paying suppliers, overstating tax income and not paying Value Added Tax, the Minister of Finance could make his numbers “happen.”
“If you don’t pay suppliers and if you charge businesses tax on last year’s income and if you don’t pay the balance of VAT refunds, which by my estimate is $2.5 billion, it is quite possible to achieve the numbers the Minister of Finance says,” Faria said.
Faria also said taxes should not be charged on this year’s earnings because of the disruption caused by COVID-19. He said it would be “irresponsible” for the State to charge the companies taxes based on those figures, adding the Minister of Finance has been “ignoring” the Chamber on that matter.
“The Minister has the power to make the numbers he has put out happen. We speak on behalf of the business community. Let’s put that out there and make sure we do the right thing,” Faria said.