‘No ship at Calcutta Road’
Tuesday, January 29 2013
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USING HIS IPAD: Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal tries out his new iPAD. Each Member of Parliament now has an iPAD....
GOVERNMENT Chief Whip, Dr Roodal Moonilal, yesterday assured that there is no ship at Calcutta Road, Couva, where the Government recently acquired 50 acres of developed land for $175 million from a private firm through the Housing Development Corporation (HDC).
As the Opposition sought to pressure the Government in Parliament over the land purchase, the controversial remarks of PNM representative for the Goodwood East/Roxborough/Belle Garden seat, Hilton Sandy, continued to hamper the PNM. Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley had, before the THA election, filed a question calling on the Government to state whether any payment was made by the HDC for the land; how much was paid, and to whom. He also asked whether the Minister of Housing, Land and Marine Resources, Dr Roodal Moonilal, was previously sold at $5 million.
Rowley, the PNM political leader who apologised for the Sandy remark, yesterday applied for a leave of absence from the sitting of the House of Representatives and was not present to ask his questions. Instead, Opposition Whip Marlene McDonald posed the questions to Moonilal on Rowley’s behalf during question-time at the start of the sitting.
Moonilal took full advantage of the fact that the land at the centre of the issue is located at Calcutta Road.
“The lands are located, for the record, at Calcutta” Moonilal said, pausing for effect. “Road! Couva. At Calcutta, Mr Speaker. We seem to have this fascination with that place. The land is located at Calcutta Road, and there is no ship there.”
Earlier this month Sandy, then a PNM candidate, apologised twice for saying on a political platform that if they voted for the PP coalition government partner TOP, a ship from Calcutta would offload at Tobago. He eventually won his seat, and was re-appointed Secretary for Infrastructure and Public Utilities by PNM Tobago Council leader, Orville London, last Friday. In relation to the land deal, Moonilal said the HDC purchased the land from a company called Point Lisas Park Limited for $175 million.
He did not deny that the land was once sold for $5 million, but instead said the land that was purchased was developed land, complete with utilities.
“It must be stated that the question is not well-stated,” Moonilal said, referring to the question on the Order Paper. “Because it is not a parcel of land that was purchased. It is a total of 275 well- serviced plots of land that include: fully-developed road networks; drainage; waste-water treatment plants; facilities for electricity and potable water, and other laterals.”