Friday, January 19, 2018

Rowley: Govt went against Sandy


OPPOSITION TALK: People's National Movement (PNM) Political leader Dr Keith Rowley, left,looks on as Diego Martin East MP Colm Imbert addresses the media during yesterday's news conference at the Opposition Leader office, Charles Street, Port of Spain. —Photo: CURTIS CHASE

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Former national security minister Brigadier John Sandy brought a note to Cabinet recommending that the Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) be accepted.

This claim was made yesterday by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, who questioned who then overrode Sandy's recommendation and moved instead to cancel the billion-dollar contract with British Aerospace Engineering (BAE) Systems.

At a news conference at the Opposition's Port of Spain office, Opposition MP Colm Imbert presented the media with a copy of the confidential Cabinet note which stated Sandy made the recommendation to accept the OPVs.

"The Minister of National Security is also of the view that GORTT (government of Trinidad and Tobago) should take steps to accept OPV 1 on the basis of the recommendation provided by the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (UK MOD)," stated the Cabinet note.

The Cabinet note also spelled out solutions offered by BAE to rectify faults with the combat system of the OPVs.

In the note, Sandy recommended that the option of utilising the electro optical detector (EOD) be adopted so all OPVs would have combat system consistent with contractual obligations.

The note also provided the delivery dates for the vessels: OPV 1 on August 25, 2010, OPV 2 on October 26, 2010 and OPV 3 on December 31 ,2010.

"The questions that arise, if this is the position of the Minister of National Security ... who, when and where took the decision to go the way the Government went? Who overrode the Minister of National Security?" asked Rowley.

Rowley questioned further how Colombia has now come into the picture as a source to purchase six long-range patrol vessels when the country was not part of the Government's request for proposals process in 2011.

He warned that the country should be wary of looking to Colombia for solutions to combat crime.

"Colombia is not the solution, Colombia is the source of the problem," said Rowley.

"I want to draw to your attention that not too long ago the situation in Colombia with respect to lawlessness was such that Colombia could not put and keep in office an Attorney General. It had reached the point where nobody in the country wanted to job of Attorney General, and eventually a woman accepted the job under the condition that she will operate from New York," he added.

Rowley said there were more questions than answers and Government was not being forthright with the cancellation of the OPV contract.