The issue of a $47 million contract that Jack Warner approved for the Airports Authority was first raised by businesman Inshan Ishmael.
On Saturday, as part of his comprehensive statement on the matter, the Works and Transport minister offered an explanation of why Ishmael has been attacking him, stating that it is part of a personal vendetta.
Here is what the minister stated:
“For the past few weeks, Mr. Inshan Ishmael, a foreign used car dealer from Bamboo Settlement, has been engaged in a mischievous, hateful and negative campaign against me in my capacity as Minister of Works and Transport relative to an award of a $47 Million contract and has been imputing misconduct and/or corrupt practice on my part.
“He has used his television station together with the rest of the electronic and print media to conduct his hate campaign.
“In my capacity as Minister of Works and Transport, I put the above in the public’s domain so that the records can be corrected and the truth be revealed.
“It is also critical to note that Mr. Inshan Ishmael hate campaign is one that is motivated by personal vendetta because he could not have had his way with me as Minister of Works and Transport.
“Prior to all of the above, Mr. Ishmael has had several meetings with my senior staff including the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry. At these meetings, he complained bitterly at alleged corruption at the Licensing Authority and asked for my Ministry’s intervention in the matter.
“He also asked for the firing of the Transport Commissioner, copies of inventories at the Licensing Authority and an appointment as Chairman of the Transport Board.
“In one of our meetings, he made a presentation of a new facility for the building of bridges and asked that building contracts be awarded to him.
“Following these meetings, in conjunction with the Transport Commissioner, we held a press conference at the Ministry at which he attended and spoke. I outlined certain measures which we shall be adopting soon to arrest the scourge of corruption at the Licensing Authority.
“I was then privately approached by Mr. Inshan Ishmael and I told him that I have no reason or the authority to fire the Transport Commissioner and do not share his opinion that it is the way to deal with corruption at the Licensing Authority.
“I also informed him that I will not be handing over to him records at the licensing Authority since it is the property of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and it will be illegal to do so.
“I further advised him that I cannot recommend him to be Chairman of the Transport Board or to sit as a member since this will be a major conflict of interest given the private business in which he is involved.
“I have received written correspondence from a Singaporain car dealer by the name of Erwin Tion from Gunung Majau Enterprise who claimed that Mr. Inshan Ishmael informed him that he is the adviser for the People’s Partnership Government, particularly the Transport Minister and Attorney General and that he can clear any ages of vehicles sent to Trinidad which he has ordered since he had done so recently.
“I wish to put on public record that Mr. Inshan Ishmael is not, and has never been an adviser to this Government nor the Minister of Works and Transport.
“I wish to also assure that the administrative system being put in place at our Licensing Offices will weed out all alleged corrupt practices by all foreign used car dealers in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Mr. Ishmael has since turned against me and has been launching an intensive campaign against me. I remain resolute in my thrust to improve the lives of the people of Trinidad and Tobago and will not be deterred by Mr. Ishmael or anyone who might be inclined to pitch stumbling blocks in my way.
“I will always discharge my duties in accordance with my oath of office and will always work in the service of all of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
“I deplore in the strongest possible terms, any attempt to impute acts of wrongdoing or corrupt practice on my part. I will discharge my duties to the best of my knowledge and abilities.