Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Roodal: Rowley must clear air

In Parliament


‘SPECIAL INTEREST?’: Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, from right, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Minister of Labour Errol McLeod during yesterday’s Parliamentary sitting at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain. —Photo: STEPHEN DOOBAY

Mark Fraser

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley should clear the air on whether he has a private interest in the cancelling of the contract for the billion-dollar Beetham waste water treatment plant, says Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal.

Moonilal raised the question yesterday at the Parliament sitting during his contribution to Rowley’s private motion, which calls on the Prime Minister to stop the award of the contract to Super Industrial Services (SIS) and review the process.

Moonilal questioned whether Rowley brought the motion in the public interest or because of personal reasons.

He noted that Rowley himself had admitted that under the previous United National Congress (UNC) administration he visited former minister Ganga Singh in a private technical capacity as he had accompanied a group of investors to the meeting who were interested in the waste water treatment project.

Said Moonilal: “He (Rowley) has admitted before that when this matter came up under a former UNC administration, he accompanied a group of investors to go to his favourite minister, Ganga Singh, to make representation and I imagine he was there in a technical capacity, concerning securing this deal with his clients.

“The member must indicate to the population whether in 2013 he also represented any other company that was involved and if he did then he found himself conflicted in coming to the Parliament because he did not come with clean hands, he had other interests.”

  Moonilal said it was clear that Rowley has studied the project and has “friends” and business partners who would want to get involved in it.

“When he went to Ganga Singh, it wasn’t a bad project then and today we would like to ask the Opposition Leader to clear the air on whether he has any special interest in this matter and whether in filing this motion it is being done in a genuine and sincere manner to discuss these issues in the public interest.”

 Moonilal said if the Prime Minister cancels this project it would mean that companies will have the opportunity to submit their bids once again.

“It could well be that one of those companies may have as their own consultant, the leader of the Opposition,” said Moonilal.

Opposition chief whip Marlene McDonald immediately stood, saying that Moonilal was imputing improper motives on Rowley.

However, House Speaker Wade Mark said he was not.

“If this motion succeeds, the natural effect of that would be to return to a competitive bidding process in which other companies would have a second bite of the cherry,” Moonilal continued.

Moonilal also took a jab at Opposition Senator Faris Al-Rawi, who is at the centre of controversy over how he acquired a report into the alleged New Flying Squad Investigative Unit.

Both the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) have denied leaking the report.

“If you have something in your possession, two institutions say they did not leak it and you have it, well it is stolen property,” said Moonilal.

“Or it is a fraudulent document,” interjected Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

“I don’t know if he (Al-Rawi), if he feel growing a beard he might go somewhere and get something else not being recognised,” said Moonilal.