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Monday 27 May 2019
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Devant: Govt attacked us but ignored queries

Devant Maharaj
Devant Maharaj

ACTIVIST Devant Maharaj has alleged the Government verbally attacked him and two other critics of the purchase of two Australian patrol boats, while ignoring their queries about the vessels and their procurement.

In a statement Tuesday Maharaj said he, attorney Nyree Alphonso, and People’s National Movement member Harry Ragoonanan held a briefing on Sunday to state their concerns.

He said the Government reacted next day with a hastily convened press conference where it verbally attacked the trio for raising legitimate concerns over the collapsed seabridge. “With language and name-calling unbecoming of ministers, the Government chose to vilify the messengers and not to treat with the substance of the issues raised concerning the Austal/Incat vessels.”

Maharaj said for the first time Young publicly told the nation the Prime Minister had held discussions with the Prime Minister of Australia at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April 2018, resulting in Rowley visiting the Austal and Incat shipyards in May and deciding to buy vessels.

Maharaj alleged, “Minister Stuart Young indicated a July 9 report from TT Defence Force Chief of Staff Commodore Hayden Pritchard only after the Prime Minister already committed TT to the purchase of both the naval and ferry vessels.”

He asked if the report’s purpose was simply to validate a decision already made by Rowley in May to buy the vessels. Denying the People’s Partnership government had abandoned Austal boats bought in 2008, Maharaj said the Coast Guard had refused to use them because of their alleged unsuitability.

Maharaj alleged Young was silent on the procurement process used and the alleged dissatisfaction with Austal vessels of the Australian New South Wales Police.

Saying Young disclosed a government-to-government agreement to buy the vessels, Maharaj said, “When was this agreement signed? Why did it remain a secret?”

He said such deals do not usually include private companies such as Austal or Incat, and urged Young to publicise the document.

“If we are to believe Minister Stuart Young’s timeline from April to July for the commencement of discussions to the agreement to spend over Aus$100 million the public demands that the Government should be more transparent and accountable.”

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