Princes Town MP, Barry Padarath said he was appalled at the responses given by Prime Minister Keith Rowley to several burning national issues raised at the post cabinet press briefing yesterday by reporters.
Rowley, who was in the sister isle during the Easter holidays, appeared to be out of touch with matters related to the sea and air bridge, issues surrounding scandalous allegations against the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs and the Minister of National Security and the diplomatic faux pas emanating from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Padarath said that he would give the Prime Minister the best dancer award since the Prime Minister kept dancing around the issues and has not dealt frontally with the role members of his cabinet have played in the matters affecting the population.
The Princes Town MP lashed out at the Prime Minister saying that the affairs of the country appeared to be on hold while the PM was golfing in Tobago enjoying the Easter vacation. He added that there was no excuse for the Prime Minister not to be aware of the allegations made against Sport Minister Darryl Smith, since the Prime Minister was in the Parliament when the Princes Town MP raised the issue. He further stated that a prudent and judicious Prime Minister would have moved swiftly to ensure that he was fully briefed on the facts of the matter, especially when the matter is damaging to the office of a Minister of Government and implicated alleged misconduct in expending tax payers’ money. Padarath said more than two weeks later after a Newsday front page story on the matter and the Prime Minister claims ignorance of the situation.
Further, the Prime Minister has passed the buck on a public servant with respect to the position Trinidad and Tobago took in a vote against Dominica at the OAS recently. The Princes Town MP reminded Rowley that while in opposition he often reminded then Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar that the buck stops with her, however unlike him she never passed the buck.
Padarath said that Foreign Minister Dennis Moses should have been fired by Rowley over this incident, since the Minister must accept full responsibility for his Ministry. The Prime Minister has effectively told this nation that there are government Ministers who are not aware of what is happening at their Ministries and is not part of the decision making process. Padarath said that he fears that public servants are being made into scapegoats for the incompetence of Ministers of Government.
The Princes Town MP said while he noted that the Prime Minister has reiterated his confidence in government Minister’s, the population had lost confidence in the Prime Minister himself. Padarath described Rowley’s statements regarding the situation in Tobago as not being as bad as others make it out to be as truly insulting to citizens of this country.
He added that while hundreds of citizens remain stranded in Tobago due to the air and sea bridge woes and the poor occupancy rates over the past few months at hotels etc., Rowley once more demonstrated his detachment from reality. How could the Prime Minister express confidence in the Minister of Works and Transport, someone who has presided over the total collapse and burial of the Tobago economy?
The MP stated that the country appears to be on standstill every time the Prime Minister engages in his leisurely jaunts, whether it is abroad or at home. He called on the Prime Minister to stop skirting the issues affecting the country with rhetoric and encouraged him to take action. He added that at this time both Sport Minister, Darryl Smith and Foreign Minister, Dennis Moses should be fired immediately as both Ministers continue to erode the public trust and confidence in the offices they hold as damning clouds of allegations and suspicions remain over them.
Padarath slammed the Prime Minister for his Laissez faire approach to several important issues and encouraged the Prime Minister to heed his own advice and that is to shut up and let the country strive if he cannot be truthful and honest about the reality that confronts Trinidad and Tobago under his leadership.