Government has given away 100 acres of prime land in Tucker Valley to a former Congress of the People (COP) candidate without the approval of Cabinet, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley said on Tuesday night.
Speaking at a People’s National Movement (PNM) political meeting on Tuesday night at the Massy Stores car park in St Augustine, Rowley said the same individual had previously received 100 acres of Caroni land.
“The biggest theft that is taking place in this country is the mishandling of State land. You all (the population) have no idea how this Government, in four years, has given away billions of dollars of State lands,” Rowley said.
He said Government was
giving portions of land to its “business friends” and it
started at Caroni and the policy had now reached Chaguaramas.
Rowley said he was told by the recipient of the largesse he had just received 100 acres of land in Tucker Valley.
“And I wanted to know how did this happen. I represent thousands of people in Di-
ego Martin, Carenage, L’anse Mitan who would love to get a plot of land,” Rowley said.
“I filed a question in the Parliament because the recipient had the gall to write me and tell me that he has received this and I must recruit workers for him (in my constituency), the same people who have been denied process and access to opportunity to have a half-acre or a 10,000 square foot, they must now go and work on his 100 acres because some people see us forever as hewers of wood and drawers of water.
“So I asked the Government when did the Cabinet approve that because as a minister of longstanding and with responsibility for the CDA (Chaguaramas Development Authority) in the past, I know that any lease of CDA land requires the approval of the Cabinet,” Rowley said.
Rowley said the Government “danced, hid, jumped, ran” but eventually had to answer his question two Fridays ago. He said however, there was no answer from the Government as to when Cabinet approved the lease or as to what provision was in place for citizens in that part of the peninsula—from Chaguaramas, to Carenage, to L’anse Mitan to Diego Martin—to access land in Tucker Valley.
Rowley said without Cabinet approval, the giveaway of the 100 acres in Tucker Valley was “an improper action and must be reversed”.
“It is grand theft of our nation’s patrimony. And I would tell you, worse than that, the person who received that piece of land had already received another 100 acres of Caroni land in south Trinidad,” he said.
He said the Invaders Bay project involved the most val-
uable piece of land in the country. Noting a judge ruled against Planning Minister Bhoe Tewarie, Rowley said Tewarie sought to adjudicate the issue in Parliament last Friday.
“Government does not want to accept that a minister of Government was caught red-handed trying to give away State asset, in violation of the existing law,” Rowley stated. He said Government intended to appeal the judgment because it did not want to go into an election with a judgment of this kind against it.
“He said Government wan-
ted the issue unsolved, “so they would not be held fully accountable for what the Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development did. Worse than that, they intend to continue with the process to give the individual the land.”
He said Tewarie is saying to the population even though the court has found they acted improperly, the Cabinet has agreed to give the developers the land.