THE Prime Minister has rejected Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal’s claim that the PNM is privatising justice in TT. Planning Minister Robinson-Regis has rejected Moonilal’s allegation that Dr Rowley was receiving a special executive grant for overseas travel.
In their respective budget contributions in the House of Representatives, both Rowley and Robinson-Regis countered Moonilal’s claims, in the budget debate. Both said Moonilal was using the Parliament to shield himself from questions in the public domain that he has to answer.
Rowley declared, “Every time he gets the opportunity to speak in this Parliament, he tries to defame or smear somebody on this side, especially your humble servant (me).”
He also claimed Moonilal uses his parliamentary speaking time “either directly or indirectly to treat with his personal problem with the police.” Rowley recalled that at least two weeks before the August 10 general election, a High Court judge spent three hours reading out a judgement about fraudulent conduct with grevious financial consequences to the people of TT, involving misconduct and allegations of misconduct by a number of people.
Referring to Moonilal, Rowley said, “That MP’s name was called 113 times in that judgement.”
He added that was “not in the context od badges of honour.”
Against that background, Rowley declared Moonilal’s objection to Government’s handling and funding of anti-corruption investigations is “beyond comprehension.”
He challenged Moonilal to defend himself in court and not in Parliament. Rowley explained there are some actions which cannot take place unless the prime minister approves them.
He disclosed that upon assuming office in September 2015, he met 500 tonnes of documents that represented matters left unattended to by his predecessor Kamla Persad-Bissessar. “I had to sign those documents.”
Rowley said his signature on those documents did not mean he had a personal interest in the matters they involved.
Referring to Moonilal’s specific claim about money paid to British law firm Edmonds Marshall McMahon, he declared, “I make no apologies for that. None whatsoever.”
In her contribution to the debate, immediately after Moonilal spoke, Robinson-Regis said it was “impossible for us to believe” that he is the Opposition’s national security spokesman.
On his claim that Rowley was the beneficiary of a special executive travel grant, Robinson-Regis said it was well known such allowances were discontinued under the Basdeo Panday administration.
Predicting that Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar will remain in that position for the next decade, Robinson-Regis suggested she closely scrutinise the qualities of her own MPs and accept the UNC’s defeat in the election.
She said Persad-Bissessar could not speak about making personal sacrifices for the population when she used the national security helicopter like a taxi, at cost of over $6 million.
Robinson-Regis also claimed UNC parliamentarians abused the tax exemptions they were entitled to for buyingvehicles. Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George overruled objections from UNC MPs Rodney Charles, Khadijah Ameen and Saddam Hosein that Robinson-Regis was breaching the House’s Standing Orders. She warned Charles that he was coming close to doing so.