MPs in fiery faceoff
PORT OF SPAIN – Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal yesterday said that in December 2010 the Works Ministry which was at the time led by Jack Warner gave approval to DW Property Holdings Ltd to accommodate the Ministry of National Security on its property.
He was responding to a fiery contribution from Warner in which he blasted the government for “corruption”. Warner’s contribution had preceded his during the post-budget debate in Parliament yesterday. Moonilal said Warner’s family members benefited handsomely under the People’s Partnership Government.
Warner had earlier said he would go down on his knees and beg for forgiveness every day for having been part of what he described as the most corrupt Government in this country.
But Moonilal countered, “The member for Chaguanas West comes, you can’t trust them, everybody is friend and family. Mr Speaker the very first CEPEP contract given out by this Government was for the sister for the member of Chaguanas West.”
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, seated next to Moonilal interjected “and the second”.
Said Moonilal, “The very second (CEPEP contract) was for the next sister of Chaguanas West.”
Moonilal disclosed that MPs are asked to make recommendations for people whom they think should benefit from Government’s programmes and Warner’s family members prospered.
Noting that Warner’s Independent Liberal Party has a public meeting in Gasparillo today, Moonilal said: “When the member goes to talk in Gasparillo he may well want to discuss as well the matter of a rental of a building in Port of Spain, a building that was rented in December 2010, where the property owners were indeed the children of the member for Chaguanas West,”.
Moonilal also disclosed information relating to an issue which was raised by PNM MP Colm Imbert with respect to settlement payments to a former employee of the Airport’s Authority–Ishwar Jadoonanan.
He said a quick check of the records showed it was Warner, during his tenure of the then former transport minister who gave instructions for settlements to be paid out of court.
Moonilal said Warner had written to the former chairman of the Airport Authority board on the issues of settlement of payments of former managers and noted that Ishwar Jadoonanan’s matter was settled out of court for $1.1 million.
Moonilal said further that checks are now being made to see when Jadoonanan was hired at PTSC as a manager and how much he was paid as it is in the purview of the Minister to give such approvals.
Taking to task Warner’s labelling of the People’s Partnership Government as corrupt, Moonilal said, “Under this administration not one member has been arrested, charged, prosecuted for any act of corruption in three and a half years.”
He said many allegations were made based on “bogus information” and the political strategy was to give the perception that the Government cannot be trusted.
Moonilal said Warner sat in the very Government for three years and said nothing about all the issues he was vociferously raising today.
“When the member was on this side we never hear about six house building, we never hear about what car renting and all these kinds of things now suddenly every week is some expose about this or that,” said Moonilal.
Warner, he said, was a big fan of Western movies and was now going about like the character the “medicine man” offering a cure to people.
“Some people believe that and they actually buy,” said Moonilal.
“I want to tell my friend from Chaguanas West that none of us on this side is afraid, we came into office, many of us spent 10 years in Opposition and if it is the will of the people and the will of God that we go back in the Opposition that is fine …. none of us here are begging and grovelling to remain in office, we are here to do a job which we will do,” he added.
Noting Warner’s constant threats of exposing members of the Government Moonilal said that “one day everybody will be out, that is the nature of politics and we are not scared”.
He said there were some eight matters he can raise with respect to Warner.
“You won’t go there today,” said Persad-Bissessar.
Moonilal said, “I won’t go there today, Mr. Speaker, I will keep all in a file and every week the member comes to Parliament and speaks and attacks this Government on corruption I will come with two, how they ‘swaha’? I will offer two… I will do it every single week until that stops because that holier than thou approach accusing the Government, that, one way or the other, that will stop”. (Express)