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Wednesday 23 May 2018
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Ameen: PM erred in fake oil affair

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley erred in attacking the Leader of the Opposition for making public overpayment to A&V Oil and Gas company for crude oil it did not provide to Petrotrin, and he erred in calling the owner of the company about the issue said Opposition Senator Khadijah Ameen.

Rowley’s attack on Leader of the Opposition Kamla Persad-Bissessar for making public the overpayment, she said, shows how Government will treat with whistleblowers.

Speaking in the Senate yesterday to the debate on the motion calling for the overstating of oil production to be referred to a Joint Select Committee on State Enterprises for inquiry and report, Ameen said, Rowley “declaring that the owner of A&V was his friend” and that he called him up sends a wrong message to law enforcement officers that the idea of “snitching and tipping off” was acceptable.

The motion laid by Senator Wade Mark was defeated with 18 senators voting “against”, six “for” and four “abstain”.

The Independent Senators split in their vote, three voting “against” and four voting “abstain”, while none voted “for.” Those rejecting the motion were Dhanayshar Mahabir, Jennifer Raffoul and Paul Richards.Those abstaining were David Small, Taurel Shrikissoon, Melissa Ramkissoon and Stephen Crease.

In his wrap-up, Wade Mark lamented the non-disclosure of two reports on the scandal, asked who had transferred Vidya Deokiesingh into his current post in Petrotrin, and vowed to keep alive the issue on upcoming election platforms.

Ameen said for Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat to declare that the motion and the public disclosure by Persad-Bissessar was unnecessary, was hypocritical as his contribution contradicted his writings as a columnist which previously called for transparency and accountability.

In spite of Rambharat saying that no one in Government is to be blamed for the “fake oil” scandal, she said, it would be interesting to see how the PNM as a party dealt with the issue as it was interconnected, not only with Government but with the party.

Petrotrin’s employee Vidya Deokiesingh, she said, was a Siparia constituency candidate for the PNM on more than one occasion, and the line minister for Petrotrin was Energy Minister Franklin Khan, who is also the chairman of the PNM.

It was also public knowledge, she said, that the owner of A&V was a financier of the PNM.

“Of course there will be questions,” she said adding, “For anyone to get up and try to pretend there is no blame to be had, save that for when you have a political meeting of converted PNM supporters.”

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