Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 14th 2016 Contents A5
Thursday, January 14, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
A well-placd sourc has told the T&T
Guardian that there is no trace of the
accounts for the purchase of more than
$400,000 worth of alcohol at the official
residence of the Prime Minister and Diplo-
matic Centre, St Ann s.
Prime Minister Keith Rowley spoke of the
discovery in Parliament on Monday night.
He said the alcohol was left by the former
PP government, which was led by then prime
minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who resided
there for some time following the September
7 general election.
Staff employed by State-owned special pur-
pose company, Udecott, manages the Diplo-
matic Centre. The head of household resigned
in November last year.
The T&T Guardian was told "operations
at the Prime Minister s residence and Diplo-
matic Centre were conducted as a secret soci-
ety as there were no trace of the source of
funding for the alcohol."
The T&T Guardian also understands that
"there is a secret account known as Project
615 at the Prime Minister s residence under
the former regime." The Udecott accounts
were separate, the source claimed.
The source also said under the PP govern-
ment the residence was transformed from a
place to live into a place of entertainment.
The T&T Guardian was told "$19 million
was spent at the residence in 2014 alone when
the PM was not living there."
Surveillance cameras at the premises were
also removed from the premises, the source
But Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-
Bissessar told a news conference at he roffice
at Charles Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday
the claim by Rowley was "a pure, unadulterated
She said it was the responsibility of the
staff at the Diplomatic Centre and the per-
manent secretary in the Office of the Prime
Minister to approve such purchases. She insist-
ed it had nothing to do with the Prime Min-
And Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal,
who acted briefly as prime minister under the
PP government said those "small issues" were
part of a campaign by the new PNM Gov-
ernment to distract national attention from
more important issues facing the citizens.
Moonilal spoke at a separate news briefing
earlier at the same venue.
"They have no plan, they have no policy,
they have no programme (on how to run the
country). It is all a way to distract," he added.
He said the Diplomatic Centre was a venue
for hosting national and international events
and foreign delegations regularly and on every
holiday there was an event there.
Among the international leaders who visited
the Diplomatic Centre during the term of the
PP government were the Vice-President of
the United States Joe Biden; Cuba s President
Raúl Castro; Venezuela s President Nicolás
Maduro and Japan s Prime Minister Shinz
Moonilal said at the shortest notice a Cari-
com delegation could be at the Diplomatic
Centre for meetings. He said consequently
the venue must be properly stocked at all
Moonilal said those issues were handled by
the Facilities Management Institution at the
Asked to comment on Rowley s claim there
was no information to determine the source
of funding for the alcohol, the former housing
and urban development minister said if the
PM felt the law was broken then he had to
Moonilal said there were people responsible
for purchasing alcohol and other products.
"A prime minister or a cabinet minister is not
in charge," he added. (RL)
Fixin T&T leader and activist Kirk Waithe is
describing Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley s position
on allegations against Housing Minister Marlene Mc
Donald as disrespectful and contemptuous to the
people of T&T.
On Tuesday, Waithe called for the removal of Mc
Donald amid allegations of abuse of public office.
Mc Donald has been referred to the police and the
Integrity Commission over questions of whether she
used her position in 2008 as a minister to influence
the allocation of a Housing Development Corporation
(HDC) unit to her romantic partner.
Mc Donald has since denied specific claims that she
requested a file for her partner Michael Carew and she
had a beneficial interest in a Fidelis Heights home allo-
cated to Carew.
Rowley has said he would not remove Mc Donald,
adding she had given an explanation to the population
during a press conference at Parliament on Monday.
"It s an unfortunate response," Waithe said of Rowley s
He said that was particularly as the person in the
allegations (Mc Donald) was the minister "overseeing
the scene of the investigation."
"What Rowley has done is tell the country we are
ignoring the allegations, investigations and anything
to do with this," Waithe added.
He said considering the five-year period before, the
country deserved better and must insist on better.
"He has shown no interest in protecting the integrity
of public office to the citizens of T&T, demonstrating
blatant disregard for the allegations and the calls for
an investigation," he added.
Waithe said Rowley had essentially set himself up
as judge, jury and in this case, pardoner.
"There is yet an opportunity for us to begin to
demonstrate leadership committed to transforming
governance in this country and yet another politician
is failing to grab that opportunity," he said.
Yesterday, chairman of Transparency International
T&T, Deryck Murray, said the group had no set position
as he was unsure of the extent of the information or
the accuracy that appeared in the media.
He said his group was seeking a meeting with Rowley
but added that the allegations regarding Mc Donald
was not a main issue to be discussed.
"We would be looking at the procedures being put
into place, a general meeting to discuss where we as
a country and the new government," he said.
He said every issue which pertained to allegations
of corruption was important but there was a need for
facts and information.
"We are more interested in the governance procedures
and what is being put in place to guard against cor-
ruption," he added.
A 26-year-old Chaguanas man surren-
dered to police Tuesday evening, four hours
after he knocked a motorcyclist off his bike.
The biker died two hours after he was
According to police, the suspect, who was
released pending further investigations, made
a right turn from Jerningham Junction, Cunu-
pia, onto the Southern Main Road when he
collided with Simon Villafana. The 37-year-
old was thrown from his motorbike. The
incident happened around noon.
Police said Villafana was taken to the
Chaguanas Health Facility and then trans-
ferred to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences
Complex where he died about two hours
after the accident. Police said the driver never
stopped and only returned to the Cunupia
Police Station around 6.30 pm.
After the accident several social network
users shared the licence plate number of the
car that knocked Villafana off his motorcycle.
In another hit-and-run accident, a 67-
year-old woman died after she was knocked
down while crossing the Priority Bus Route.
Eyewitnesses also recorded the licence plate
of the vehicle, a grey Mazda 3, and have
already received information on the owner
of the car.
Police said around 9.30 pm Tuesday Angela
Gonzales was crossing the PBR near Broome
Street, close to Bermudez factory outlet,
when the car, heading west, knocked her
down and never stopped. Gonzales is the
sixth person to be killed for the year in road
Alcohol stash at PM's residence
'Operations were like a secret society'
Fixin' TT on Mc Donald issue:
Man surrenders after knocking down biker
In a release yesterday Opposition Senator Wayne
Sturge said he was not in any way surprised by
Rowley's decision to retain Mc Donald as a member
of his Cabinet.
"The public can now see for itself the true
essence of the man" who claimed to be aware of
bid-rigging and other forms of corruption at Udecott
since 2003, corruption which "stank to the high
heavens and which made what happened at Piarco
look like child's play," but who nonetheless was
content to keep it hidden from public view until he
was fired," Sturge said.
He said for Rowley to refer to the issues
regarding Mc Donald as a bare allegation, in the face
of documentary evidence, showed the level of
contempt he had for the populace.
"There are so many unanswered questions that
he has skilfully chosen to avoid by the use of
deflection and distraction," he said.
The Opposition has initiated
steps to prevent moves by the
Government to appoint a Com-
missioner of Police and Deputy
Commissioner of Police.
Opposition Leader Kamla Per-
sad-Bissessar also said once the
new list of items with a 12.5 per
cent VAT rate is published in legal
notice the Opposition would also
seek to nullify it in Parliament.
Persad-Bissessar said so during
yesterday s news conference at
her office at Charles Street, Port-
of-Spain. It was held following
the PP s parliamentary caucus at
the same venue.
She said one of the reasons for
the move against the orders was
due to the unjust and undue delay
in notifying the Speaker of the
coming into effect of the orders
before it was laid in the House.
She said another reason was
due to the apparent attempt by
the Government to interfere in
the work of the independent
Police Service Commission in the
"We have filed motions to
(have) negatived both of those
orders," she said.
Persad-Bissessar said Govern-
ment would have to set a date
for debate on the motion, adding
it should be held before January
25.She said the Government had
committed breaches in the
process and there was a provision
in one of the orders to select and
appoint a Commissioner and
Deputy Commissioner of Police.
Maxie Cuffie announced the
approval of the new legal notices
relating to the qualification and
selection criteria orders during a
post- Cabinet news conference
last month but the orders were
only brought to the Parliament
She said the orders were
made on December 14, 2015
and published two days later
but not brought to the Parlia-
ment until this month.
In seeking to explain the rea-
sons for the Opposition s move
she said the Standing Orders pro-
vide for "the statutory instru-
ments, which is required to be
laid in Parliament shall be sub-
mitted forthwith to the Clerk (of
the House) for laying on the table
simultaneously with its submis-
sion for publication."
The former prime minister said
that was necessary because such
matters "which are subject to the
negative resolution of the Parlia-
ment take effect on the date of
publication, unless negatived. "
She said from the date the
orders were approved "they
became law and would remain
so unless negatived within 40
days which are allowed for that
She said the public never saw
those notices until this year.
Opposition moves to
block top cop order
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