OROPOUCHE East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal took exactly 25 seconds to say sorry to Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds and so regain the right to speak in the House of Representatives on Friday. Moonilal had been chastised by the House Privileges Committee for allegedly saying “Snake has lead for you” referring to a Beetham man who had splashed Hinds with flood-waters during a walkabout.
“With reference to the report of the Committee of Privileges, Allegation of Threatening Words, dated June 18, 2019, and pursuant to the recommendation therein and without prejudice to my legal matter, I extend an apology to the House and the Member for Laventille West for the words deemed threatening.”
He spoke quickly and in a very cut-and-dry monotone.
Moonilal then spoke to reporters, with Opposition chief whip David Lee.
Of his apology, Moonilal said TT had simply too many topical issues that needed to be spoken about, for him to remain silenced. He also wants to speak in the October 7 budget debate. “It’s show time!” he told Newsday.
Otherwise, Moonilal said it was odd that Finance Minister Colm Imbert had not yet replied to Opposition queries over his apartment complex at Picton Street, Port of Spain, four days afterwards. UNC head Kamla Persad-Bissessar had asked whether Imbert had declared his interest when he had piloted a bill to give tax breaks on earnings from such buildings.
Moonilal himself asked whether Imbert had got approval before starting to build. Elsewhere, on the cancelled contract between the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and China Gezhouba International Engineering Company, he asked if the deal had involved an advance payment guarantee.
“What was the financial exposure?” he asked of TT’s possible liability. He asked if Dr Keith Rowley had signed a framework agreement on the deal, aside from the contract between the HDC and Gezhouba. He said mega projects should be first approved by Cabinet and the Attorney General.
Lee asked how could Cabinet be empowered to stop a contract despite Cabinet’s not being needed initially to approve it.
Moonilal said that after the botched deal, HDC chairman Newman George should have been fired, but in fact he had since been promoted to chair Paria Fuel Trading Company and Guaracara Refining Company, while being on the board of Heritage Petroleum, all legacy companies of the former Petrotrin.
Moonilal asked if Rowley was using the occasion of his visit to Washington DC to meet US congressmen to also seek political support among US-based TT nationals, in a “Conversation” at Howard University hosted by the TT Embassy in Washington DC.
“Is he using taxpayers money to campaign internationally?” Moonilal asked.