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Sunday 22 October 2017
Politics

Rowley returns from California check-up

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is back home. He will be speaking on several national issues tonight at the third in a series of “Conversations with the Prime Minister” at the St Augustine Secondary School in St, Augustine from 8 pm.

Rowley returned home early yesterday morning on a red eye Caribbean Airlines flight out of New York. Rowley was supposed to return home on Monday but, his return was delayed because of the closure of Miami International Airport due to the passage of Hurricane Irma.

Government officials said Rowley was not in office yesterday but has been keeping abreast of developments which took place during his absence.

Confirmation of Rowley’s return was given in a statement issued yesterday by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).

The OPM has been handling the administrative functions of the Public Administrations and Communications Ministry since regular line minister Maxie Cuffie fell ill last Tuesday.

Cuffie is recuperating at St Clair Medical Centre and his family has asked for privacy while he recuperates.

On Sunday, officials said Rowley will “attend to further interim arrangements for that portfolio” when he returns.

Newsday understands a decision may be taken after Thursday’s weekly Cabinet meeting at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s.

The OPM said the objective of “Conversations with the Prime Minister” forum is to, “engage the national community as we continue to work together and navigate our challenging circumstances towards a brighter future.”

Among the issues which Rowley may deal with tonight is an allegation made by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar about a fake oil scandal at Petrotrin.

Persad-Bissessar claimed a lease operator had defrauded Petrotrin of almost $100 million by inflating the figures for oil it was supplying to the company.

She also claimed the operator was a People’s National Movement (PNM) financier. Energy Minister and PNM chairman Franklin Khan rejected Persad-Bissessar’s allegations at a news conference on Monday.

Rowley may also respond to a threat of legal action against him from Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal.

At a news conference at Piarco International Airport on September 1, before he left for California for a medical check-up, Rowley said Moonilal may have questions to answer in connection with the alleged mishandling of more than $400 million at the Estate Management and Business Development Company Limited (EMBD) in August 2015, just before the last election. Moonilal has threatened legal action against Rowley because of these remarks.

Senior government officials have since indicated, “While Dr Moonilal is free to approach any court, he will be met with all the necessary responses when required.”

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