TRAVEL MONEY CAN BUILD HOMES
By Newsday Staff Wednesday, July 3 2013
He wanted to save the country money. This was the reason Jack Warner gave yesterday for not travelling abroad on Government business as National Security Minister.
Warner confirmed Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s claim, made at a public meeting in Caroni on Monday night, that he had refused to travel overseas while in Cabinet, but said he did so because he felt too much was being spent on Government travel.
However, if it was necessary for reasons of national security he would have travelled abroad, Warner told reporters after delivering an address at a graduation ceremony at Felicity Hindu School, Chaguanas.
He admitted he was once asked to deliver a national security address in Curacao but asked Chief of Defence Staff Kenrick Maharaj to deliver it in his stead.
Warner said he was in Miami on November 25, last year, when he spoke to Persad-Bissessar.
He said, “The Prime Minister asked me to go to Canada, I said no. She asked me to go to Rome, I said no. They asked me to go to India in a massive delegation with Government funding and so on, I said no I won’t go to India.”
The Prime Minister led a delegation to India in January 2012, and travelled to Canada on a State visit in April, this year.
Warner said the cost of Government travel over the past three years could have built between 1,000 to 2,000 homes in each constituency and he did not want to be party to spending money that could have been put to better use.
“I don’t want to join that. I have said before, I did not buy a Government car, I have not got any Government car. I have said before I wouldn’t take a Government salary except one dollar a month. I haven’t taken a Government salary. So all these things are not isolated but part of a whole package of which I said I would not do. So don’t be fooled,” he admonished.
When questioned further, Warner said he refused to go abroad because he had done so many times before. “I have travelled to 176 countries, some of them several times over. I have no intention to go on a plane again to open my legs, take off my pants, take off my belt, hands up and so on. I’m not doing that anymore! I am tired!” he said, speaking of security checks.
Warner was referring to his many visits to countries over his decades-long tenure as a FIFA vice-president and president of the regional football federation, Concacaf.
Persad-Bissessar, in a stinging attack at Monday’s meeting at Vishnu Boys Hindu College, raised the issue of corruption allegations against Warner’s role in world football, claiming he had admitted he and his family were the subjects of an inquiry by the United States government.
She also disclosed he was the subject of a local police investigation on the Flying Squad. These were among the reasons, she said, why Warner was not chosen as the UNC’s candidate for the Chaguanas West bye-election— triggered by Warner’s resignation as MP of the safe seat.
Warner yesterday denied he told Persad-Bissessar he and his family were under investigation for white- collar crimes.
“It is totally untrue,” he said, adding he had no bitter feelings against the Prime Minister, who he claimed had been “imprisoned” by persons close to her.
“All I am saying to her is that I’m sorry. I’m sorry she has gone down to that level. I promise you guys I will not go down to that level. I’ll maintain a very dignified level,” Warner said.
Warner promised to comment further on Persad-Bissessar’s statements at a meeting in Felicity on Friday, when he said he would deliver “the mother of all speeches”— a catch phrase that he also used before announcing he would resign as MP back in May. It is expected he would announce his plans for the bye-election, including whether he would contest as an independent, or launch his own political party.
When questioned yesterday, Warner said he did not know if the country could handle a third major political party. However, he said the “level of political sophistication” in the country was so high that it was unprecedented and only time would tell.
At a cottage meeting, also in Caroni on Monday, Warner had told his supporters that today would be the last day he would wear the UNC yellow at another walkabout in Caroni starting at the community centre.
He told them they may “feel a little grief” when they have to part with the colour but the crowd vehemently disagreed.
“Between now and the 29th, we shall flood this constituency with green! We shall flood the airways with green, we shall flood the TV with green so that you would not even remember that there was a thing called yellow,” he added as the supporters cheered.
On Warner’s official Facebook page, an advertisement to Friday’s meeting, posted around 12 am on Monday, fades from yellow to green and reads “Chaguanas West is going green.” The comments on the ad were mostly positive as supporters spurred Warner on.
Neil Rampersad commented, “Gone Green Already!” while Sandy Sparks stated, “We flooding out d place wit green.” Marcus Jean-Baptiste said, “D game just change, thanks to u Boss man. U are gonna give them a run, they would never forget and u would make history!” and Pradeep Raman encouraged, “Go Jack show them how its done — proper representation.”