REVEALING that 40 per cent of claims for relief over recent flooding were bogus, the Prime Minister lamented corruption in this society, ranging from a parent’s nod to their child for stealing a pencil to $22 billion in money-laundering and other suspicious transactions.
Dr Rowley addressed as People’s National Movement meeting at Port of Spain City Hall on Thursday night.
He related that after his initial allocation of $25 million for flood relief (up from $12 million already given to southwest Trinidad flood victims), claims had risen to $84 million and then $118 million. “The level of fraud in that programme was 40 per cent! That is a matter for the police.”
He lamented that some people find that kind of behaviour acceptable, including the parent who sees his/her child bring home another pupil’s pencil and then approvingly tells them they had got a nice pencil.
“Reject that!” he implored. “White-collar crime is no badge of honour. It is criminal conduct!”
Endorsing the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2018, which the Opposition has not been supporting, he said a European grouping, the Global Forum, knows enforcement of the law in TT is impeded because secrecy supported by the Opposition is working in favour of criminals.
Ahead of his planned meeting on the bill with Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Friday morning, he said her attendance left too short a time before the day’s House of Representatives sitting.
“She will meet me on Friday at 11.30 am, and Parliament is at 1.30 pm. So you know the meeting is a sham,” he said. “They are running true to form: delay, object, obstruct and sabotage.”
Rowley sought to link the Opposition to corruption, saying six projects had cost overruns of $1.5 billion under the former regime, and $22 billion in suspicious transactions such as money-laundering were unearthed last year by the Financial Intelligence Unit.
He scoffed at the Opposition’s claims to be protecting individuals’ right to privacy.
“They are not protecting you at all. Ask yourself, just who are they protecting? I say to you this evening: the criminal element in TT.”
Rowley related the Section 34 affair and the $1 million Beetham Waste water Treatment Plant. Hitting the Opposition’s rejection of the bill, he alleged, “They know exactly what they are doing, because they know the outcome will be chaos. It is the economy they want to collapse.”