THE Prime Minister on Sunday backtracked on his former stout denial that he named economist Wendell Mottley to participate in negotiations for a Sandals resort for Tobago.
In a statement, Dr Rowley apologised to radio journalist Robert Amar who at a “conversation with the media” last Thursday, alleged Mottley’s appointment, only for this to be wrongly denied by Rowley who had told Amar, “tear up your notes.”
On Sunday, the Office of Prime Minister (OPM) issued a statement and then a second fuller statement, both titled, “Clarification Regarding Wendell Mottley’s Appointment to Sandals Committee.”
It said, “In 2016 the Cabinet appointed Mr Wendell Mottley to a committee which was tasked with leading negotiations with Sandals. The Government did not enter the negotiations phase with Sandals and so the committee was not operationalised.”
The OPM said that up to the point of discontinuation of the Sandals project, preparatory work was done by a Special Purpose Company chaired by Mr Neil Wilson in Tobago.
This work was mainly site and topographical surveys to help decide where the facilities should be located so as to advance the approval process at the Environmental Management Authority and the Town and Country Planning Division. The OPM said that unfortunately before the preliminary works were finished, the brand owners (Sandals) declined any further participation and exposure.
“It should be noted that Mr Mottley did not get involved in the Sandals project as was originally intended.” However, he functioned very effectively as a negotiator on behalf of the people of Trinidad and Tobago on important natural gas negotiations matters.
“An apology is extended to Mr Robert Amar who raised the name of Mr Mottley as being involved in the Sandals project and was told he was incorrect. The Prime Minister apologises for not clarifying as herein described.” Newsday was unable to contact Amar.