Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 7th 2015 Contents A5
Thursday, May 7, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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Government has made an oral complaint to
Moody s regarding the recent downgrade rating given
to T&T, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has
She made the statement in response to questions
from Independent Liberal Party (ILP) MP Jack Warner
during yesterday s Parliament sitting.
Finance Minister Larry Howai had expressed T&T s
concern on the issue to Moody s already, the PM said,
but there had not been a written complaint.
She said Government, as Howai had indicated, would
be balancing the budget and eliminating debt positions
following Moody s downgrade.
Persad-Bissessar said she did not expect any increased
costs from the downgrade, adding the BAA2 rating
Moody s had given T&T was still an investment grade
which many countries did not have.
She said she did not expect an economic collapse
and Government was working towards cutting deficits.
"The sky will not fall tomorrow. We are working on
this," the PM said, noting that T&T had also received
downgrades in 2007 and 2009 under the People s
National Movement (PNM) administration.
She noted Government had inherited a Petrotrin
debt, which began in 2007 and 2009 with huge financial
issues for the failed gas to liquids project.
On queries from Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley,
she said Government had a debt management strategy
and also had a medium-term fiscal framework, both
of which have been given to Moody s.
When Rowley alluded to her "cavalier, casual, non-
chalant" attitude on the issue, she accused him of
being arrogant in his manner and unpatriotic.
On the Chaguaramas causeway project, she said a
preliminary study was done in 2008 with a ballpark
estimated cost for the project of TT$6 billion to $8
She said in 2014 Nidco, working with Carrytrans,
examined a more efficient way and that estimated cost
was $2 billion but no feasibility study had been done.
On Warner s query about possible preferential treat-
ment for three temporary Government Senators named
in the auditor general s report who also received pro-
fessional fees of $1.9 million, Persad-Bissessar said
attorneys who did state work were selected by the
Attorney General s office and temporary senators by
the PM s office.
She said attorneys were chosen on competence in
litigation and it had not been unusual, since it had also
been the practice under the PNM where people who
were senators their firms had received legal briefs.
On whether that violated the Integrity law, she said
she was not of that view and Warner "knew what to
do" if he had a concern.
Persad-Bissessar also said Government expected
receipt of the first of the 12 coastal patrols vessel by
the end of this month and was negotiating for funding
for a Chinese vessel which would also facilitate training
of Coast Guard personnel.
The Central Statistical Office (CSO) has been pro-
ducing data on inflation, trade and other issues and
labour data would be up to date in June, she pointed
out. She noted the CSO s data had also been the basis
on which the PNM s Vision 2020 was done.
orally to Moody's
Even before the House of Representatives
was asked to vote on a motion to suspend
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley,
Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner said he
turned down an offer to assume the role
of Opposition Leader temporarily.
Warner denied he was mobilising support
for the position.
"Some people have asked me if I am
interested. I made it quite clear to those
people who asked me if I am not interested
in becoming Opposition Leader. They tempt-
ed me by saying I could pick six new senators
(and) I say I have no interest in that."
Warner said he would not say who made
the offer to him.
"They asked me if I want to be Chief
Whip, I am not interested in that either."
He said he only wanted to serve to the
end of his term and see what would happen
when election was called in a few weeks
He insisted he had "no aspirations what-
soever to be Leader of the Opposition."
Two Opposition MPs, who spoke on the
condition of anonymity, later denied any
knowledge of such a request being made
by the party.
"That can t be true" one said, while the
other said he was not aware of any such
move being made by the PNM.
Both said any such request would have
to go through party channels. For an Oppo-
sition MP to be elected as Leader of the
Opposition they must have the majority
support of Opposition MPs.
Earlier House Leader, Oropouche East
MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, presented a motion
of censure in the House of Representatives
yesterday to suspend Rowley for his "scan-
dalous, unsubstantiated and scandalous alle-
gations" about senior Government ministers,
including the Prime Minister and former
attorney general and other senior politicians,
being part of a plot to murder a newspaper
journalist in 2012, to bug the office of the
DPP and remove him from office.
That stemmed from publication of news-
paper stories about the proclamation of
Section 34 of the Administration of Justice
(Indictable Proceedings) Bill 2011.
It was claimed that early proclamation
of the section of the legislation would have
prevented businessmen Ishwar Galbarans-
ingh and Steve Ferguson from facing pros-
ecution in a series of criminal cases linked
to the Piarco Airport development project.
The Parliament was reconvened in emer-
gency session to repeal the controversial
section that was proclaimed.
In May 2013, Rowley read a thread of 31
e-mails purportedly belonging to senior
government officials discussing the criminal
House Speaker Wade Mark has referred
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley to
Parliament's Privileges Committee over
Rowley's recent allegations against
Finance Minister Larry Howai.
He gave the ruling during yesterday's
Parliament session after Prime Minister
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, at the previous
sitting, requested that Rowley be taken to
the Privileges Committee for making
"reckless "statements about Howai in the
recent debate on a motion of censure
The PM said Rowley knew or ought to
have known the statement he was
reading from was false, inaccurate and
Mark said it was not for him, as
Speaker, to determine whether a
contempt had been committed.
He added: "I have given this matter
careful, serious consideration. I have
examined the Hansard (record) in detail
and I am of the view this matter warrants
further investigation. I rule that, prima
facie, a sufficient case of breach of
privilege has been established. I therefore
refer the matter to the Privileges
Committee for full investigation and
However, Mark denied Rowley's request
for Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine to
be referred to the Privileges Committee
for an inaccurate remark in relation to the
salary of former Petrotrin boss Malcolm
Jones on April 17.
Ramnarine had told the House that
Petrotrin's current chief financial officer
Ronald Huff's package, with a basic salary
of $147,000, plus other perks, was less
than Jones' basic salary, which Ramnarine
said was $162,000, plus "other things."
Rowley had argued that Ramnarine
ought to have known Jones' salary was
$125,000, which was contrary to what he
stated and should have known the figure
he gave the Parliament was inaccurate.
Yesterday, Mark noted that Ramnarine
had corrected the remark at the first
opportunity which was at the last sitting.
MARK REFERS ROWLEY TO PRIVILEGES BODY
No to Opposition
'They said I could pick six new senators'
Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner, left, speaks to a demonstrator before the start of
yesterday's sitting of Parliament at Tower D, International Waterfront, Port-of-Spain.
PHOTO: MARCUS GONZALES
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