Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley says an ensuing legal battle against former government minister Herbert Volney for the St Joseph constituency seat will “benefit Attorney General Anand Ramlogan’s attorneys and cost taxpayers millions of dollars”.
After Finance Minister Larry Howai’s $61.3 million Budget presentation yesterday, House Speaker Wade Mark ruled Volney’s seat be declared vacant. Rowley also said Volney should “tell the nation the truth about Section 34” during his post-Budget news conference at the Parliament Chamber in Port of Spain.
Rowley also said crime and mayhem will prevail if Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar does not address the housing problem in East Port of Spain.
Zeroing on the Volney issue, Rowley felt Persad-Bissessar’s decision to solve its political problems on Budget day depicted “bacchanal and confusion in public administration”.
Rowley said: “The only people who will benefit from this development are lawyers chosen by the AG. It has no precedence in our Parliament. I am absolutely certain there will be to-ing and fro-ing in the courthouse. If it was her intention to do what she has done. And knowing the background. All she had to do was to ensure the House Standing Committee complied with the law. And put the necessary Standing Order in place. There will be no credible legal challenge. All of that could have been done in a week.
“We are off to the court house. Taxpayers are being asked to pay for it. Lawyers will be smiling from ear to ear. Volney being in or out of the Parliament does not change the price of cocoa to the average person,” Rowley said.
According to Rowley, “It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. He has seen his friends for what they are. I hope he will now tell the country the truth about Section 34.”
Reviewing Persad-Bissessar’s action three weeks after they met on crime, Rowley said an urban renewal programme and job creation will ameliorate people’s lives in East Port of Spain. Howai said $2.7 billion will be allocated to housing.
Rowley said: “We put a plan about the urban renewal programme. The government paid no attention to it. In the absence of it, there will be no improvement. We can continue to expect more of what has been going on there. Part of Port of Spain’s problem is a deterioration in the city’s housing stocks. I find it quite disturbing. It’s beating its chest about allocation for housing construction and there are thousands of houses which are under construction and which have not been completed.”
On the issue of property tax, Rowley said: “It is a deliberate distraction. The government is devious and untrustworthy. It is telling you it is not property tax. Government is back-pedaling on this tax. You will not be paying it with money but with jumbie seeds.”