THE Prime Minister has come to the defence of National Gas Company (NGC) president Mark Loquan, amidst calls for his resignation, expressing total faith and confidence in him.
Loquan has come under fire in recent times for what is being termed his ill-advised decision to invest US$400 million to find gas to support the continuation of Atlantic Train 1, and the subsequent request for indemnity of the board and company from this bad investment. The investment is said to have had Cabinet approval.
The United National Congress (UNC) has been leading the call for the resignation of not only the president and board, but Energy Minister Stuart Young as well.
During a political meeting in his constituency of Diego Martin West on Tuesday night, Dr Rowley spent a lot of time explaining the NGC situation.
He denied that figure was accurate.
“I don’t know where they got that $400 million from. I can tell you that is not the figure. By the time Christmas comes around it would be a billion dollars.”
He said the UNC’s obsession with $400 million could be because it represented the cost of the ill-fated Life Sport programme or the bid by a company to build a former prime minister’s house. although that bid was in excess by $400 milliion.
Rowley said based on moves to remove NGC as a major player in the LNG business, the failure by the previous administration to renew gas contracts, giving gas contracts to new companies and leaving the old ones to starve and make claims against the NGC, Loquan's services were sought.
“Mark Loquan is an outstanding LNG expert who we had to literally had to winkle out of Australia and drag him back to TT as a patriot, because when we came here to meet this situation, we wanted people who we knew and to contribute.
“To hear the Opposition calling his name as though he has done something wrong and seeking to give the impression that he has something to answer, when what he has done as part of the prime ministerial team that went around the world to fix what I just told you about – it is a travesty indeed.
“All I would say to the UNC is to stop calling Mark Loquan’s name. You cannot put your foot in his shoes.
“Just in case you have a problem,” he told the live and online audience, “as Prime Minister I have absolute faith and confidence in Mark Loquan. I know the job he can do and he does for the people of TT.”
He said under the UNC the then president of NGC was also the chairman of WASA when the Beetham Wastewater Plant was conceptualised but never completed, resulting in a $1 billion loss to NGC.
“WASA conceptualised the project and NGC approved it. It was himself to himself and one billion gone to the project. These are the same people who are coming and calling on Mark Loquan and the board to resign.”
Rowley also chastised the UNC for mounting a campaign against Energy Minister Stuart Young and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi about the number of times they have recused themselves from Cabinet because of conflicts of interest.
Rowley said even if there is a slightest potential of a conflict a member would recuse himself, but this does not equate corruption.
In Young’s case, he said because his brother works for a bank, whenever that bank is mentioned, he recues himself, whether or not the bank gets the job.
“It galls me, when I sit in the Parliament and watch them in their face, jumping up and down as though they want to defend the people, when in fact, they have been the most corrupt government in the Commonwealth.”
He recalled it was Young who had to go to international courts to try to get back $921 million from the bankrupt BrazilianConstrutora OAS which left the Point Fortin Highway undone, all because the former government had removed a clause to protect the client and people of TT.