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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley addresses a political meeting in Mt Lambert on Wednesday night.

Gail Alexander

There is no “expiry date” on fraud matters, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has pointed out, particularly to ILP leader Jack Warner.
Rowley made the point during Wednesday’s PNM Mt Lambert “Meetup” campaign meeting.

He remarked on Warner’s comments following Rowley’s recent disclosure that the Dutch Government was probing the purchase of vessels which the last People’s Partnership (PP) Government bought from the Dutch Damen company.

A former National Security Minister was mentioned. The current administration finished the payments.

Warner who was a PP National Security Minister (up to 2013) had taken issue with Rowley’s comments on the matter.

But Rowley said Warner’s comments made it seem like he (Rowley) wasn’t supposed to tell T&T about what the Dutch Government told the current administration on the probe they’re doing regarding the purchase of the vessels which the last Government bought.

Rowley said he’d seen Warner identifying himself with the Dutch Government enquiry, “But I didn’t call Jack’s name, they said ‘National Security Minister,’ but he’s on TV identifying himself and accusing me of calling his name – I didn’t know was he, when they say ‘Minister of National Security’.”

Rowley noted Warner said he’d been speaking about a matter of seven years ago.

“I didn’t know fraud had an expiry date. There is no expiry date on fraud. You’d think Jack Warner knows that,” he said.

He asked if a situation allegedly occurred a long time ago and if police hadn’t spoken to anyone for five or so years, whether it made the situation okay and Government shouldn’t raise it now.
Rowley claimed Warner’s arguments are like UNC MP Roodal Moonilal’s. “And they want to return to Government? They refuse to accept that something was wrong so if they get the opportunity they will do it again! That’s what that (situation) means,” he said.

“There’s no condemnation for wrongdoing on their part,” he said, adding that otherwise, the Opposition wouldn’t be so chummy with the PDP leader who’s on a charge.

“And they wouldn’t have allowed a man to head a regional corporation while he was on a corruption charge. This country will survive but not on those standards. You have to teach your children about discipline otherwise we’ll all become like passenger pigeons and end up like the Dodo bird (dead).”

Among Rowley’s jabs at opponents, he said no PNM candidate could have told him to put them back as a candidate because they held secrets for him and no PNM candidate was the screening team’s girlfriend or boyfriend. Rowley said the upcoming election isn’t about who can make the population more promises or give more things but who could take T&T in the right direction and make the best of a bad situation.

He said while the PNM’s term had been more difficult than the previous, PNM’s results were better than the last administration and have produced the best chance for positive outcomes for T&T, post-COVID.

“So when you hear two-by-four rum shop politicians saying ‘Government heartless’, they just have nothing to say. We left no one behind. Every request to the Health Ministry got a positive response from Cabinet,’’ he said.

“Don’t let people fool you. We’ve been making progress and we are making progress – strong, tough people get out of difficult situations all the time.’’

New ferry arrives soon, other in early 2021

The first of the two fast ferries for Tobago – The “APT James” – will arrive later this year and the other, early next year, Prime Minister Keith Rowley added.

He said the first ferry will be the solution to the ferry problems experienced. Because of delays caused by the global COVID pandemic, he said there would be a short delay for the second one’s arrival which will early in the new year. After that, the T&T Spirit will be disposed of. He praised the two Tobago MPs and detailed PNM’s achievements in constituencies.

He said it was projected that once the COVID 19 virus recedes, the world economy will kick start very quickly and return to some semblance of normalcy of how it was, with economic growth projected at 5.8 per cent. Wherever T&T – in the emerging market category –ends this year, once it’s not as infected and has to close the economy again and markets pick up, it was expected it would be able to turnaround the direction T&T went in 2020. Rowley added. He noted Government’s Recovery Roadmap team consulted 120 sub-sector leaders to produce its plan.

He also cited opportunities ahead, especially with digitisation. Using phone technology as an example, Rowley related how lost and disconnected one could feel without a cell phone. But the new environment would require leadership that can chart a course to take advantage of the setbacks experienced, he said

Rowley gave a special thank you to health Minister Terrence Deyalsnigh whom he said had done T&T proud on COVID management. He said regional Prime Ministers talk about Deyalsingh as though they know him and a lot of what other islands have done on COVID management has been based on guidelines by T&T’s Health Ministry and Chief Medical Officer.