PM: Govt did not stymie return of Balandra 68

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

The Prime Minister on Sunday rejected allegations that the Government tried to stymie the return of 68 TT nationals from Guadeloupe.

In an interview on I95.5FM, Dr Rowley said it was “absolutely untrue” that Government tried to block their return by threat of quarantining the French crew of the aircraft which brought them back to TT.

“At no point in time did the Government take the position that if a plane comes here with those people, that the crew that brings them here would be quarantined.” Rowley said he instructed National Security Minister Stuart Young and Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister Dennis Moses to allow the plane to enter and its crew not be quarantined

He said the crew did not leave the plane and that “all the arrangements were in place and they (the 68) were sequestered in a particular location and are being looked after under the context of the management of the infection.” Reiterating that Government is responsible for all TT’s citizens once they arrive here, Rowley said everyone can agree that the return of the 68 was well organised and well done.

He said Government did not pay for the return of the nationals to TT. “They made their own arrangements.” Rowley said the 68 were on a cruise ship first and then in Guadeloupe before they came home. In both instances, Rowley said “they were still under the control of a foreign flag.”

Instead of people making uninformed comments, Rowley suggested, “Let’s understand how these things work.” He was surprised about letters written by former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj on behalf of the 68.

When told Maharaj asked in the letters for cleaning agents, testing and better accommodation, Rowley replied, “You don’t write the Prime Minister of the country because you don’t have some soap or some sanitiser. There must have been another objective.”

On testing, Rowley said Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram publicly indicated the 68 were tested the same night they arrived. He added that he did not have time to be distracted by Maharaj’s letters. Rowley also said TT is not the only country in the world that has citizens who are trying to return home because of the pandemic.

He explained, “There are limits as to what can be done, and every country is doing what it can in the best interest of its citizens.” Rowley added, “We have to do the common sense thing and not believe that this is something that you could say and do anything just willy-nilly.”

In a separate interview on I95.5FM, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said, “We need to take this in a very accommodating, constructive kind of approach.” He said Maharaj knew all members of the Government “well enough to pick up a phone and call.”

Al-Rawi argued that writing a letter could have been avoided and it was best “not to make a storm in a teacup for now.”


"PM: Govt did not stymie return of Balandra 68"

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