In response to the contribution from Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, Keith Rowley vehemently denied his Administration had secured the services of any lobbyist in Washington.
He is on record as saying, “Where did he (Moonilal) ever get that from, that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago hired a lobbyist for a million dollars to lobby Donald Trump, or the US Government? That is a deliberate misrepresentation and an untruth.”
But in October 2016, the Rowley-led Administration signed a US$2.4M (TT$16+M) contract with the GroupDC to provide lobbying services for this country.
Rowley cannot say that the lobbyists were not engaged to lobby the telephone call with President Trump.
He was adamant “or the US Government… that is a deliberate misrepresentation and an untruth”
How was GroupDC selected? What are their achievements as a lobbying firm in Washington?
Are any of their principals connected with any member of the PNM?
In 2004, the Manning-led Administration intermittently used the services of another Washington-based firm – Ainsley Gill and Associates, to lobby the Bush administration on T&T’s behalf.
Gill, the firm’s managing partner, is Trinidadian and served as the secretary of the T&T Association in Washington DC.
In 2009, the Government paid US$4M for similar services from Gill for a two-year period.
However, on the internet, it is reported Ainsley Gill & Associates was founded in 2004. The company is in Washington and incorporated in District of Columbia and has 4 employees. Its estimated annual revenue is US$350,000.00.
So, this begs the following questions; what was the value of the contract given to Gill & Associates in 2004 when the Company had absolutely no track-record?
Further, how is it Gill and Associates estimated revenues is reported as US$350K when in 2009, it received a US$4M (TT$27M) contract from one client, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago?
Was the GORTT its only client?
Further, will Prime Minister Rowley, who was a senior Cabinet Minister in the Manning-led PNM Administration, confirm or deny whether the same Ainsley Gill, the then Government lobbyist in Washington, was also a Director of Niquan Energy, the Company that was attempting to acquire the incomplete GTL plant at Pointe-a-Pierre.
This is astounding – the Government’s lobbyist in Washington is also a Director of a Company attempting to purchase a failed State Entity project.
Further to this, what was the role of another Director of Niquan John Andrews, a former Chairman of Petrotrin? Was Andrews involved in the $2.7B GTL Plant? If he was, when did he joined the Board of Niquan?
But why does the GORTT need a Lobbyist in Washington?
What is the Minister of Foreign Affairs doing; isn’t he supposed to be lobbying for and promoting the interests of Trinidad and Tobago with foreign states?
As well, what is the role of T&T’s Ambassador and his Staff in Washington?
Democracy continues to under threat in Trinidad and Tobago under this Rowley-led Administration.