The incredulous statements by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley about his Government’s refusal to honour debts to contractors once more unveil his incompetence, haughtiness and disturbing sense of injustice.
Dr. Rowley criticised the $1 billion claim of a contractor while that matter is currently before the courts. His shock comments are prejudicial, reckless and repulsive.
Further, for the past two and a half years the Rowley regime has steadfastly refused to honour the debt, thus placing several contractors at the edge of bankruptcy and leading to job losses for hundreds of workers and downstream service providers.
The Prime Minister has accused one contractor of massive corruption and taken that organisation to court while handing that company the largest public sector deal in Trinidad and Tobago’s history.
A significant amount of the debts dates back to the Manning administration, during which Dr. Rowley was Minister of Housing before his summary dismal for “wajang behaviour.”
The malice and ineptitude means that an incoming UNC Government will again have to meet and treat with contractors, as we did in 2010, when the failed PNM regime left a staggering $6 billion debt.
Dr. Rowley’s worrying stand-off with contractors comes amidst his Government’s inability to launch a single large-scale project in order to generate much-needed economic activity.
Of note is that the attempt to lease a single vessel for the critical inter-island service has led to four investigations and Dr. Rowley’s admission that the port of Port of Spain is a den of “conflict, corruption and iniquity.” Still, the Board of Directors of the Port Authority remains in place.
Dr. Rowley has even less moral authority to speak of the contractors in light of the costly fake oil scandal at the debt-ridden Petrotrin. That racket has been placed into cold storage even after the explosive conclusions of two independent audits.
There are also widespread industry reports that Petrotrin continues to buy oil from “fake oil” contractor A&V Drilling in spite of the damning discovery of some $100 million in sham supplies. Incredibly, A & V remains a contractor in good standing with the insolvent taxpayer-owned Petrotrin.
Further, the Brian Lara Stadium is a monument to massive cost overruns, similar to previous projects under Dr. Rowley’s watch, which led to the alarming findings of the Uff Commission of Enquiry.
The Uff Commission presented 91 recommendations for public sector reforms, which were ignored by a PNM regime and later implemented by the People’s Partnership Administration.
Of interest also is that Dr. Rowley is creating a recipe for corruption through the appointment of private sector businessmen and the father of a Government Minister in a committee to secure investments for Trinidad and Tobago.
This raises the obvious question about what has become of the special purposes company Invest TT, whose stated mandate is to serve as an “investment promotion agency.”
Dr. Rowley’s wild and irresponsible public utterances and bewildering actions are symptoms of a dreadfully bungling and clueless ruling regime.
Virtually every statement and step of the Prime Minister and his incompetent Ministers define the Rowley regime as hopeless, retrograde and ill-equipped.