OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday alleged that three companies belonging to a high-ranking member of the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) and his wife, have corruptly benefitted from lucrative government contracts to the tune of millions of dollars.
Speaking at the UNC’s national congress at the Couva multipurpose hall, Persad-Bissessar slammed Prime Minister Dr Rowley for claiming his government was clean of corruption yet apparently being unaware of illegal acts happening under his watch.
She claimed that this member of the PNM’s executive who has held stints in Parliament operated three companies which got government contracts. She said documents filed in the Company Registry outline clearly, the name of the PNM member and his wife, who are the sole shareholders of these companies.
Persad-Bissessar said that this PNM member’s company got a contract to oversee demolition of a public building – a project under the direct supersivision of Udecott. The cost of the demolition was $455,625 VAT inclusive. The PNM member’s company was awarded the contract through selective tendering.
She then spoke of a second contract, this time for garbage collection services in HDC developmenrs, given to the PNM member’s company. Persad-Bissessar asked what procurement process was used, was it selective tendering as was the case with the demolition contract?
She later claimed that the PNM member was given a contract to build houses in Edinburgh 500 as well as a community centre in Indian Walk.
Earlier in the congress, UNC political leader Jearlean John also slammed Rowley saying, “when your prime minister talks about being elected to be re-elected and does know if it is the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning, today I tell him it is just the end. Dust to dust and ashes to ashes.”
John said it was time the PNM packed their bags and left. On the topic of Cambridge Analytica being used to suppress young black votes, she said, “What on Earth do we need Cambridge Analytica, when we have Keith Rowley? We do not need anything else to suppress young black votes!”
“No need for Cambridge Analytica...we’ve got you babe,” she said to loud applause. She told UNC supporters that after days of hiding the prime minister proceeded to tell the country he was not responsible for “Marlene’s mess” as he did not know about any involvement in corruption until someone sent him a text late one night.
“Each and every day he makes it known that the Keith Rowley administration is free from the stain of corruption.
But we know better,” John said as she was referring to the laying of criminal charges against former Cabinet member Marlene McDonald who is also MP for Port of Spain South.
In 2010, when Persad-Bissessar entered the government, John said, she did so with a solid manifesto of policies, plans and programmes which she proceeded to successfully execute. “In 2015, the population exchanged 106 schools for ‘lets do this’,” John said.
“Whether it is the highly touted Sandals project, Dragon Gas, La Brea and Toco Port and with Petrotrin gone, it appears that in the continuing cover up their willy has disappeared also. Mike Willy, the new Heritage CEO has gone, the man is not that stupid,” she said.
“When fathers and mothers reached out to him, the prime minister the most powerful man in TT, because seven young men have not returned, you would think he would have lifted a finger to help them. No! They died a brutal death right here in Couva,” John said as she referred to the murders of seven fishermen.