Saturday, February 24, 2018

PNM supporters ‘acted like hooligans’

Sport Minister Anil Roberts yesterday chastised supporters of the People’s National Movement (PNM), saying their behaviour in blocking him from entering the Parliament was hooliganism.

Speaking on the heels of Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, who moved a private motion calling on the Government to stop the billion-dollar Beetham Waste Water Treatment Plant, Roberts began his presentation taking issue with the confrontation he faced. He noted Rowley had called on supporters to circle the Parliament yesterday.

“They didn’t circle the whole Parliament, they circle a little piece but unfortunately Mr Speaker I’m a member of Parliament who comes here to do my work, and when I came here the PNM supporters in red jerseys accosted me, grabbing, pushing, shouting, cussing, acting like hooligans, I am not able as a Member of Parliament to accept that from anybody, and I put it on record I’ve already sent a letter to your secretary complaining about it because it is unacceptable, it is hooliganism!” charged Roberts.

“I am very soft and I cannot take too much pressure, so when I was accosted today I almost cried. But on a serious note, and the media was very present, that sort of behaviour cannot be tolerated by anyone. The People’s Partnership will not tolerate any of our supporters treating any member of Parliament like that, and I would hope that the PNM and the Leader of the Opposition would also denounce that behaviour,” said Roberts.

Roberts said Rowley was not forthcoming with the truth with respect to his interest in the waste water plant.

The minister called on Rowley to declare whether he had any interest in the project. Rowley immediately stood and said, “I want to put it on record I have no interest whatsoever in a waste water plant in Beetham or anywhere in the world, for that matter.”

Roberts then quoted from a Hansard document of April 28, 2000, on the debate of the desalination award of contract where he said Rowley declared an interest in the waste water plant.

The Hansard documents, said Roberts, showed Rowley tried to clarify a point when challenged by Ganga Singh at that time.

“Outside of my parliamentary duties, I practise professionally as a geologist. One of the services I provide to the public at large is hydrology, and in that capacity I happen to accompany a group of local businessmen, investors who sought my services as a geologist,” Roberts read Rowley’s Hansard.

He went on to say Rowley accompanied the investors to the office of the minister—then Singh—as they sought to discuss with him private-sector investment in the form of the Beetham waste water sewerage plan.

Rowley again got up and declared repeatedly he has no interest in the waste water plant and Roberts was misleading the Parliament.

Roberts said the entire process in awarding the contract to Super Industrial Services was transparent and above reproach.

He said a number of internationally recognised companies were involved in the accountability of the process, including KPMG and recommendations of the John Uff commission were also followed.

Roberts said Rowley should have evidence and fact before making baseless allegations which could affect the investments in this country.