St Augustine MP Prakash Ramadhar on Thursday joined with Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley in knocking critics of the prime minister's invitation to citizens of hurricane-ravaged Dominica to seek temporary refuge in Trinidad and Tobago (TT).
Speaking on Friday at a news conference at the Grand Bazaar branch of X-tra Foods Supermarket, where he launched his own relief effort for Dominica, Ramadhar said "We must open our doors to a friend's family and people you know for those who wish to put them in a better place in Trinidad and Tobago until they get on their feet, but at the same time we cannot be opening our doors to everyone because you cannot empty Dominica.
"Dominica has a long past and a great future and there are many who do not wish to leave their homes and we must help them rebuild their homes for the sake of their legacy. And for those who want their children to be born there and to grow up in their homeland, we must also help them build that future. So for those who have criticised it, I think language is very important and if it is put in the context that it is a temporary thing and not the emptying of Dominica to come to Trinidad on a permanent basis up front, I think a lot of the criticisms would not have been made," he said.
Ramadhar also announced he joined with charitable organisation, SEWA International Trinidad and Tobago to provide relief to the people of Dominica and would make a donation of $10,000 from his family's foundation, The Ramadhar Foundation. He said the donation would buy one hundred buckets of foodstuff and supplies put together by SEWA to be delivered to Dominica for distribution to the needy.
Among the supermarkets involved in the relief effort are all branches of X-Tra Foods, West Bees supermarket in Diego Martin, all Super Quality outlets, the Persad's Group in South Trinidad and Better Deal Supermarket in Aranguez. Marketing Manager of X-Tra Foods, Daniel Austin, said it was part of the company's mantra to help people when they are in difficult times and the X-Tra Foods logo includes the slogan "X-Tra Food cares". He said this was borne out in X-Tra Foods' sponsorship of $20 of the cost of each bucket, totaling $20,000.