COUVA South MP Rudy Indarsingh has accused Finance Minister Colm Imbert of deceiving the people of Couva with his announcement that Cabinet has approved construction of a new industrial park for Pt Lisas and a concessional loan from the Chinese government to finance it.
He said with the number of companies shutting down at Point Lisas in the past two and a half years, any decision to create job opportunities would be welcomed.
However, he said from Imbert’s response in the Parliament last Friday to questions posed by Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal about the status of the loan arrangement, he wants to believe what Imbert presented at last week’s post-Cabinet news conference was “fake news.”
Indarsingh said Imbert detailed, at the post-Cabinet news conference last Thursday, information about a concessional loan from the Chinese government to finance the project, but “flip-flopped” a day later when Moonilal asked him in Parliament about the state of negotiations for this loan facility.
Imbert is reported as having said on Thursday that ten Chinese companies will set up factories at the park, construction of which is to begin later this year, and Cabinet had approved the project, which was to be financed by a concessional loan from the Chinese government. Beijing Construction Engineering is being touted as the preferred contractor.
In response to Moonilal on Friday, Imbert said the issue of negotiations taking place for a loan did not arise because the project is a direct result of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s visit to China and the matter would take place in the future.
Moonilal further questioned whether it is a policy matter at this stage, but Imbert opted to keep silent, saying he did not want to pre-empt any thing the PM would have to say on his return to the country on May 28.
Responding to the exchange, Indarsingh said, “Constituents of Couva have been deceived. When I listened to the MOF saying words to the effect that (the loan) was in discussion stage between the PM and officials he alluded to, I think constituents have been deceived.
“I have no thorough information to say that firms will start to construct by next year or this year, or what business they would be involved in, or how much people they would employ.
“As far as I can say this is probably fake news.”