A certain political party has pledged $1 billion for campaign financing in its bid to remove the People’s Partnership from office. This according to Works and Infrastructure Minister Suruj Rambachan.
Speaking in the House of Representatives during the budget debate yesterday, Rambachan said the same political party had paid upfront $5 million to local media houses “to lock down” advertising space for the October 21 local government election,
Rambachan alleged that all this money was coming from five Cayman Islands accounts held by 25 firms, owned by members of the family associated with the political party. “One billion pledged to remove this Government from 25 firms, where the family members are directors,” the minister said.
“This is very startling news. I wonder if all these companies and directorships have been declared to the Integrity Commission?” Rambachan added. Rambachan said this was why the country needed campaign finance reform.
People’s National Movement MPs immediately declared that Rambachan could not be referring to the PNM.
Rambachan did not name the party. Instead he trained his guns on Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner, who is interim leader of the Independent Liberal Party.
“Some people they have very interesting subterfuge objectives why they get into politics.”
He referred to statements made by Warner in the Parliament in March 2012 in which Warner admitted that he removed him from Mayor of Chaguanas. He said Warner had stated that at the time he ousted Rambachan and that he and others had an “investment” in Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her future.
“Mrs Persad-Bissessar, as the leader of the UNC, cannot be bought, cannot be traded, cannot be sold. She is in no one’s backpocket, front pocket, she said an independent leader. She is incorruptible...Maybe the member for Chaguanas West is accustomed to buying and selling people and maybe that was what the problem was, that he thought he could have control. There was no ‘cabal’ when he acted as Prime Minister on five occasions. But suddenly he is not there and suddenly there is a cabal. All there is, is a group of people who are working in the interest of Trinidad and Tobago and its citizens,” Rambachan thundered.
Rambachan also took Warner to task for alleging that he had stated that there would be nothing done to benefit Felicity. Rambachan itemised the many drainage and road works conducted by his ministry in Chaguanas. He said between July 26 and the end of August, 34 road-paving projects were completed in that constituency.
Rambachan said Warner’s accusations were very vicious. “It is meant to turn people’s minds against this Minister. But this Minister is a performing Minister, who is fair to everyone, and is doing work throughout the country. And I would not have the member for Chaguanas West create any image of this Minister as someone who is against any particular group or any particular area,” the Works Minister said.
The Minister also spoke of the Unemployment Relief Programme stating that there had been positive changes in the programme over the last year. He said there was always an issue of “ghosting” (ghost gangs). He said at least $92 million was saved in “ghost-busting”, he said. He said 381 community projects and 129 core projects were done under URP in the last year. He said between June last year and the end of this fiscal year, 738 projects were executed under URP.
The Minister lamented the increase in single mothers in the country because of the failure of men to take responsibility for the children they brought into the world.
Turning to the PNM, Rambachan said the Opposition PNM wanted to take credit for alll the good things the Government had been able to do, especially projects it had abandoned or projects it had failed to implement.
But, he said, the Opposition did not want to take blame for those things they did and which brought immense pain and suffering to the people, he said.
He cited the wrapping of babies on brown paper and the state of the Women’s hospital. He said Point Fortin MP Paula Gopee-Scoon criticised Government for the Point Fortin hospital and the Oncology Centre. “For ten years they sat in office and none of these things were done and yet they are complaining”, notwithstanding the fact that Government was getting these projects off the ground. “It is obvious therre is a little bit of tabanca on this whole matter of performance,” he said.