Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. -
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. -

The Prime Minister said the safety of the people of TT during the covid19 pandemic takes priority over the timing of this year’s general election. Dr Rowley also urged Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar to stop using the pandemic to politick, stop her members from misleading the public, and work with other stakeholders in the public’s interest.

In an interview on I95.5 FM on Sunday, Rowley said, “You see right now, I am not concerned about the politics of the next election. I am concerned about keeping the people of TT safe to get past this very dangerous, challenging situation that we have.”

He said general elections are fixed by the Constitution, Parliament comes to an end in September and Government has a 90-day time period under the Constitution to call the election.

Rowley said if Persad-Bissessar was sincere about meeting with him, “she could have called me on the phone or sent me an email and we would have met.”

But he said she displayed her request for a meeting in the media “to promote politics.”

He said at his meeting with the Opposition on Friday, they “brought nothing to the table that was new or more valuable than what all the other doctors are bringing.”

Rowley said the two MPs who are doctors, and who accompanied Persad-Bissessar, were not virologists or epidemiologists who are qualified to deal with viruses. When Parliament sat on March 20 to pass public health regulations to deal with covid19, Rowley said the Opposition rejected Government’s proposal to have fewer members in the chamber, only one person to speak for each side for 30 minutes so the sitting could be finished quickly, and social distancing to be maintained. At that sitting, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal and Persad-Bissessar spoke for the Opposition. Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi was the Government’s only speaker.

On bars staying open, Rowley said, “While we are trying to get people serious and accept we had to shut the door to keep the foul air out, they are saying ‘no, keep the door half open so some air could come in.’”

Asked whether NCLB booths could be closed because of the pandemic, Rowley said people must maintain social distancing whether they go to buy a pack of milk or a lottery ticket. He hinted that if people choose to congregate at NLCB booths in violation of public health regulations “we will shut them down if we have to.”

On a group of 70 TT nationals stranded in Margarita, Rowley said Persad-Bissessar knew the airport there had been shut down because of covid19 but made a call to Government to send a plane for them.

“What are they going to do? Go and sit over Margarita and send down a ladder to pick up people?”. Rowley said he is not worried about the political consequences of Government’s decisions in addressing the pandemic. “Let the chips fall where they may.”



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