“True to form, whether it is the Venezuela agreement, Sandals negotiations, the Galleon Passage fiasco, our diversification ‘mystery plans’, or the OAS and Darryl Smith Reports; citizens of T&T remain totally in the dark about almost everything under this Rowley led administration,” says Naparima MP Rodney Charles.
It is as if our views do not matter or we are incapable of comprehending the workings of Government or that they have something to hide.
Most former diplomats who retired in 2015, who paid contributions to their pension plans, are yet to be paid terminal benefits. And we are fed up of asking when they will be paid.
It has become somewhat of a pattern under this Government where, whenever major deals or events are taking place and the public demands transparency and accountability, we are expected to trust the Government’s judgement otherwise we are deemed unpatriotic.
Dr Rowley informs us that the ‘’Sandals project will continue unless it is stopped by a court order and the court cannot make such a ruling so the Sandals project will go ahead.’’ On Saturday he remarked, ‘’let’s get it done, we’ve talked about it long enough.’’
Have we really talked ‘long enough’ when we are not provided with basic information to make informed comments?
So billions are being spent on Sandals and despite warnings from our Caribbean neighbours and our own misgivings; we are deemed unpatriotic if we ask what are the business plans, the anticipated return on investment, the opportunity costs, the management arrangements and tax breaks provided.
Shut up and take what’s agreed to by us, appears to be this Government’s approach.
It is a similar matter with the OAS report. Three months after receiving it from former Ambassador Christopher Thomas, Dr Rowley is yet to release its findings. In Parliament on July 3rd 2018, Senator Rambharat said that the OAS report “will be tabled by Parliament’s Joint Select Committee on Foreign Affairs “shortly”.” That followed a PM statement that he would release it in Parliament. More recently, on August 11th, Newsday published a story headlined “Charles: Publish Dominica Report.”
Total silence is the Government’s standard response so far.
We see the same secrecy with the Darryl Smith matter and the $150,000 payout to the Minister’s former personal secretary after she allegedly reported sexual harassment by a high ranking member of the Ministry. The details were bound by a non-disclosure agreement, despite taxpayers footing the bill.
Recently Dr Rowley and the Minister of Everything signed a secret agreement with Maduro. We do not know why Dragon field totally owned by Venezuela was prioritised over Loran Manatee in which we have a 26% interest. How close are Russian interests particularly Rosneft in fields near Dragon and will we have to deal with them in future? Has the T&T/Venezuelan agreement been ‘properly’ ratified by the Venezuelan Parliament? Is the agreement worded in such a way as to survive a change of Government? Are the prices agreed to competitive with those likely to be offered by the Jamaican regasification and storage unit being set up by the US to export LNG to the Caribbean? Is the Government now beholden to Shell whose hand appears to be strengthened significantly in this arrangement?
The Dragon field we understand is part of the Mariscal Sucre Project which includes two Russian operated fields located offshore the Paria Peninsula. They hold an estimated 1,200 million standard cubic feet of gas.
Why is Dr Rowley so silent on matters which impact our very future? What happens if these projects do not pan out? Who bears the costs if these projects fail? Are we silent witnesses to very expensive failed projects like Malcolm Jones’ failed Gas to Liquids and desulphurisation projects for which we have to pay US $850 million and much more later on?
Are Dr Rowley and Stuart Young our best negotiators and can they be relied upon to make the best deals? What has been their track record with similar negotiations? If the various deals made to acquire inter islands ferries are anything to go by then we are in deep, deep trouble.
We are completely in the dark about activities of this Government. We should be worried.
MP for Naparima