People’s National Movement (PNM) political leader Keith Rowley has instructed party treasurer Mariano Browne to provide the party’s accounts to determine whether or not he (Rowley) used party funds to finance his leadership campaign.
Rowley said he was informed his opponent, Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, was saying that he was using party funds to support his personal re-election campaign in the PNM internal elections, scheduled for May 18.
Rowley said he had one year to raise whatever money was required to run his campaign and he did that. He said he did not raise millions or zillions, it was just enough to support the public meetings he has been holding.
“I have not hired one single person. I do not have a single person being paid by this campaign, it is all voluntary and it is all PNM. I have not rented a room anywhere...I have bought out no radio station. When I appear on a radio station, me and my team, we got there for free, invited by the radio station,” said Rowley at a PNM constituency meeting in Cumuto/Manzanilla on Thursday night.
“Now, 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 (for the house) and staff it. They could have people all over the country on their payroll. They could buy radio station time to have the ‘Penny show’. There is no paid ‘Rowley show’ on any radio station, because we did not make this occasion an opportunity to raise money. We made it an opportunity to go around the country and meet party members and talk to party members and that doesn’t cost very much.”
Rowley said since his opponent is prepared to go on radio, television and newspapers and “the only crystal clear issue I know about so far, with one week to go in the campaign, is that we are using party money to run this very successful campaign”.
“I am calling on the treasurer tonight...in fact, I am instructing him as PNM leader, to bring to the General Council on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. his financial statements to demonstrate what my opponents had said—that this election campaign has been run from the PNM funds. If that is happening, then the treasurer should know...and therefore...I am instructing him to bring that confirmation. And in the event he is not able to convince the General Council that statement is supported by facts and figures, then I am demanding an apology from Mrs Penny Beckles-Robinson on behalf of the PNM.”
Rowley also dealt with the court ruling on the Highway Re-Route Movement.
The ruling said the construction of the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension to Point Fortin must continue.
But Rowley said while the Attorney General said it was a victory for the Government, the AG failed to state that the judge said he would not stop the project because too much of taxpayers’ money was already committed to the project and the public interest would not be served by stopping it.
“But the judge went on to point out that the Prime Minister made a commitment to conduct a review and to abide by the review and the judge found that the Prime Minister did not keep her word. The judge found that the Prime Minister used that commitment, never meaning to keep it, but used it to prevent Wayne Kublalsingh from continuing with the hunger strike.
“The words are uncomplimentary of the Prime Minister,” he said.
On the issue of prison litigation, Rowley read the contents of the letter of the former Solicitor General to the Prime Minister. He also referred to the Attorney General’s statements that he found no wrongdoing and to the Director of Public Prosecutions’ statement in which he stated that he (the DPP) had found a strong prima facie case of wrongdoing.
Rowley said the country was being run “by a mafia”.
“They did all kinds of things for the last four years,” he said, referring to matters such as Section 34. “But we not swallowing this... So tonight I am calling on all right-thinking citizens that this letter from the Solicitor General to the Prime Minister, pointing to criminal conduct, requires that the Government gets out of office as quickly as possible,” he said.
Rowley said any citizen who is prepared to provide “aid and succour” to this “unpopular, destructive” Government “is unpatriotic and is supporting crime and criminality”.
“This PNM is not prepared to cooperate in any fashion with the Government that is in office today. Whatever they call themselves, they have outlived their usefulness,” he said.
“They say they are the rising sun, well get out of town by sunset. We have seen enough, heard enough, felt enough and we ain’t taking no more,” he said, adding: “We want the elections now!”