By RALPH BANWARIE Saturday, May 10 2014
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SMILEYS: Whatever it was, it must have been entertaining enough to draw smiles on the faces of these three parliamentarians. The smileys from left to ...
PNM Political Leader Dr Keith Rowley is calling on the party’s treasurer, Mariano Browne, to provide a financial report at today’s General Council meeting, to support a claim made by his opponent, Penelope Beckles-Robinson, that he (Rowley) was using the party’s funds to run his campaign. Rowley made the call during his address at a public meeting held at the Guaico Government Secondary School, Turure Road, Guaico on Thursday.
Rowley, in fact, described the request as an instruction from the Political Leader to Browne, who is seeking re-election on the Beckles-Robinson slate in the PNM’s May 18 internal elections. Rowley told supporters if what is being alleged is true, then the one person who would know and have the evidence is the treasurer.
Rowley said he will be demanding an apology from Beckles-Robinson if the evidence is not produced to support her claim. “I had one year to raise whatever money was required to run this campaign,” Rowley said. “And I can tell you that it is not millions, zillions or kazillions. Its just enough to do what has to be done, which is, to support these kinds of meetings in my constituency, where most of it has been raised, to transport one or two people around because they like to come to the meetings. I have hired not one single person. There is not a single person being paid to work in this campaign. It is all voluntary, and it is all PNM.
“I have bought out no radio station. When I appear on a radio station, me and my team go there for free, having been invited by the radio station. Those who are of lesser ability have enough money to rent house in Valsayn. I can’t even rent a house in Diego Martin. They could hire people, and staff it. They have people all over the country on their payroll, they could buy mega station time to have the “Penny Show”.
There is no paid Rowley show on any radio station.”
Rowley then turned his attention to National Security Minister, Gary Griffith who, at Thursday’s post Cabinet news conference announced that Cabinet has approved the purchase of six helicopters and four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or drones). The equipment is to be used by the National Operations Centre (NOC) and would cost about $600 million.
Griffith told reporters the cost of the six helicopters is $500 million which is less than the overall cost for one of the Agusta helicopters “which we are not able to use effectively because some bright person decided to put them under a civilian licence” when they were first acquired. He said the four UAVs, which are ten times more sophisticated than the airship or “blimp”, acquired under the previous PNM administration, had a budget of $87 million. But Rowley said the announcement of the impending acquisitions is an admission of failure on the part of the Government.
“They have admitted, through no better voice than the Minister of National Security, that the Government has finally concluded that with respect to the question of fighting violent crime, that the Government has failed and failed miserably,” he said. “When we bought the airship for $12 million, to secure us (and) to find out what the criminals were doing, they said that $12 million in surveillance equipment was too wasteful, it was too much, and (former National Security Minister) Martin Joseph and (former Prime Minister Patrick) Manning was playing the fool. Today we are hearing about $600 million to buy today’s technology.” Rowley also reiterated his call for Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to resign over the prison litigation issue. He also spoke of, what he described as, another instance in which the Government was exposed for who they are. He said last week’s ruling by Justice James Aboud in the Highway Re-Route Movement injunction matter is yet another stain on the image of the Prime Minister and her entire Cabinet.