PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley challenged the Opposition to point out which of his eight official overseas trips he should not have gone on, as he pointed out the tangible benefits of the trips including $10 billion in foreign direct investment to TT’s energy sector based on his trip to Houston, Texas.
He told a PNM meeting in La Horquetta on Thursday that the $2.3 million cost of his eight trips was cheaper than that of a single trip to India by former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Rowley said a trip to a Caricom meeting had let him put free-trade back onto Caricom’s agenda, that is, the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), while his trip to Chile had revealed the mysterious re-allocation of a gas shipment to unknown parts and so taught him that TT must learn more about the global trade in liquified natural gas (LNG.) Another trip had him save TT-made goods fromthe ire of Jamaican politicians and importers.
Rowley announced that one foreign energy firm has agreed to re-open talks on its existing contactual arrangement to exploit TT’s hydrocarbons, as he said that many firms have not been paying their just due in taxes to the Government. While some energy firms have not paid taxes on the basis of purportedly not earning enough revenues to be required to do so, their own shareholders had received good earnings.
On that basis he had introduced a 12.5 percent royalty required from energy firms, and even this was a cheaper rate than charged elsewhere. He alleged that certain critics had tried to win paid consultancies with foreign oil forms by bad-mouthing the Government and siding with the people ripping off the country.
Regarding critics of his performance in office, Rowley said he was guided by his political mentor, Tobago politician Williams Mac Kenzie, that, “You can’t please everybody. You just do your best and leave the rest.” He answered critics of his proposed highways by saying how absurb it looks today to recall the individuals who had protested against the Solomon Hochoy Highway and Claude Noel Highway.
He scoffed that if he tried to build a new road to Maracas, critics would argue, “Look it have a monkey there! Look it have a spider there!”