ATTORNEY General Faris Al-Rawi can call on people to explain their wealth, Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said, but he can’t explain why a family clan in Port of Spain with close links to the ruling PNM, owns more than 200 properties in and around the nation’s capital.
Speaking at the UNC’s Monday Night Forum in Fyzabad, she said, “I want Al-Rawi to tell the country how much money he and his relatives received in contracts, rent and briefs from this government on an annual basis, and for what.”
She outlined what she said were the properties owned by Al-Rawi. She also claimed there is no formal lease between the State and Al-Rawi’s family for the million-dollar, office-building rentals at Alexandra Place in St Clair.
Persad-Bissessar said the undated draft lease revealed the proposed monthly rent for One Alexandra Place is $600,000 plus VAT.
What was more alarming, she said, was that the original lease from the State for the land is for one shilling a year.
This was an apparent reference to a document being circulated, which appears to be a letter from the Commissioner of State Lands to the Commissioner of Valuations, and which says the original lease for the land, granted in 1920 for building a single house, at that date was for one shilling a year.
Persad-Bissessar charged that the PNM Government had demonstrated throughout its term that it is all about friends, family and financiers.
“It has been reported that the State has paid more that $165 million in just under ten years for 1 Alexandra Place, reportedly with no formal lease,” she said.
Contacted for comment, AG Al-Rawi told Newsday he had not heard Persad-Bissessar’s comments. When told what they were, he questioned whether the Opposition Leader’s statements were actually newsworthy and said he was too busy to give a comment.