With the general elections approaching, UNC Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal once again called for the borders to be reopened saying there are many nationals aboard who want to come home to vote.
“It is a dangerous path to deny them their constitutional right to vote for a government of their choice,” Moonilal said on Saturday as he accused the Government of using the “lockdown for political objectives.”
“They (Government officials) are not opening the border on the guise that we have a lockdown and people have to quarantine. The Government is using a pandemic to violate every law, every constitutional principle, every rule of law in TT,” he said. Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar made a similar call during a virtual meeting on Thursday, and St Augustine MP Prakash Ramadhar issued a statement on Saturday also demanding Government allow nationals to return home.
Since March 23, TT’s borders have been closed as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of covid19.
Moonilal was speaking to reporters at the Radha Krishna mandir at Gandhi Village in Debe. He visited the site to make a financial donation regarding refurbishment works on its roof/ceiling.
On the issue of the possibility of returning nationals having to fit their bills for the mandatory 14-day quarantine, Moonilal described it as absurd.
“Those people did not create the covid virus, those people did not lockdown the airport. They were outside, they were prevented in some cases from coming back to the country and now they are telling them they must pay for quarantine services.”
“This is unthinkable, unacceptable and unattainable. We (UNC) have built the Couva hospital, the Arima hospital, the National Tennis Centre, all those places are available with other places. The Government ought not to be charging.”
He said he also took issue with the Dr Keith Rowley-led Government for reducing the speaking times for MPs in Parliament.
The Opposition MP charged that the Government is “now on the verge of” doing a virtual finance committee meeting.”
“That is a fascinating thing. The Government wants to get $2.6 billion to spend between now and election. That is almost a billion a month to spend and they don’t want the members to go to Parliament to speak,” Moonilal said.
“They want us to stay in our living rooms at home, go on our computer and raise questions where the national community will not see what is happening and will not be getting it live.”
He said hundreds of thousands of people watch the parliamentary channel or listen to it on the radio.
“Are they expected to be following a virtual meeting like that?” he questioned.
The Government, Moonilal emphasised, is using “the lockdown” to lock out transparency, scrutiny and accountability.
Screening exercises by the UNC are being conducted at an undisclosed location. So far, there is no official word about the candidate for Moonilal’s constituency. However, he is reported to be the favoured to retain his post.
When asked about it, he said: “The screening committee is working very hard in a diligent and meticulous manner. I expect that anytime I will be called for screening. We (candidates/potential candidates) do not get involved in discussions like that.”
“That is a matter for the political leader and the hard-working screening committee, and we continue doing our jobs. Whether people say you are in or out or in on the line, those things do not matter to us. We continue doing our work.”