AG: Kamla getting transparency on covid19 already

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.

ATTORNEY General Faris Al-Rawi said Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is within her rights to call for a commission of inquiry into Government's handling of the covid19 pandemic.

But he said she has already received and continues to receive full transparency from the Government on all matters pertaining to covid19.

He also said the public will be provided with full details on all of the unsuccessful covid19 litigation he said the UNC and its allies have pursued in court, while national efforts to curb the pandemic are ongoing.

Persad-Bissessar called for an inquiry during a virtual UNC meeting on Monday.

At a virtual news conference on Tuesday, Al-Rawi said, " I think Mrs Persad-Bissessar is well entitled to ask for that. and the transparency that has been given I think has already answered that."

While she may be entitled to ask for it, he said, "The Minister of Finance (Colm Imbert) has laid (it) bare, the questions on the Parliament's agenda, have been answered. There has been full disclosure in that regard from the Minister of Health (Terrence Deyalsingh), Minister of Agriculture (Clarence Rambharat), Minister of Finance, Minister of Social Development (Donna Cox). All of these people have been asked for information and that has been given."

Al-Rawi also said covid19 litigation has been very expensive. Since the start of the pandemic last year, he said the many attorneys representing frontline UNC members "have taken the Government to court." He cited two of those matters as examples.

"Let bars open...bring back SachaSingh."

Al-Rawi estimated that from last March till now, the cost of that litigation is approximately $14.5 million. "Litigation is not cheap...The UNC covid-led litigation – which has been lost, every single matter that has been lost – has cost us millions of dollars.

"All of these matters are laid bare to the Auditor General and will be provided with full transparency as the matters come to conclusion."

He mentioned a now-concluded matter involving two minors which came up before the Privy Council. Al-Rawi said his predecessor Anand Ramlogan, in May-June 2015, took the then Persad-Bissessar government to court "for failure to have a child rehabilitation centre set up, so that minors could not go into adult prison, and be put into the child rehabilitation centres."

In May 2015, he said, Persad-Bissessar approved the proclamation of sections of the Children Act to allow for those centres to be established but did not create the centres.

"Today, the taxpayers have to pay costs and have to pay damages for Anand Ramlogan suing Kamla Persad-Bissessar for not opening a child rehabilitation centre."

Al-Rawi said fees paid to foreign attorneys are significant sums, "all of which are accountable to the people of Trinidad and Tobago and will be in the Parliament."

He added, "That is definitely something that we have to have a serious amount of concern about."


"AG: Kamla getting transparency on covid19 already"

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