While Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is in the country doing her duty, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley is in Dubai.
“Some say (he) goes away and play golf,” said Works Minister Suruj Rambachan, while speaking on the Finance Bill in the House of Representatives yesterday.
“The member for Diego Martin North East (Colm Imbert) went on an exploratory trip (in his contribution) and I wonder whether he should have gone on a trip to Dubai.
Rambachan stated: “This is a very important debate taking place in this House ... and while my Prime Minister is here doing work ... I do not see the Leader of the Opposition. And I want to know how the Leader of the Opposition will answer to the public who will ask him, did you contribute to this debate where major policy decisions and changes were taking place?
“If you want to lead this country, then you must be here and lead. And every time he misses the Parliament like this, I don’t know, some say to go away and play golf, what he does is he abdicates the responsibility of leadership. He disqualifies himself from being a leader in Trinidad and Tobago.”
The minister added he was sure the people of this country felt “ashamed” that, in an important debate like this, the member for Diego Martin North East (Imbert) has to take the leadership.
At a public meeting the week before last, the PNM chairman announced Rowley was taking a ten-day break overseas, though he declined to say where exactly the Opposition Leader was going.
Rambachan responded to statements by Imbert that Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine, who said he was an engineer, was not on the list of registered engineers in the country.
Rambachan said Ramnarine had a master of science in Petroleum Engineering and an international master’s degree in Business Administration.
“The Minister of Energy is more than adequately qualified to hold the position,” he said.
Rambachan said this was why the Government had been able to put together the kinds of incentives and programmes that have been able to regenerate investment confidence.
“And that is what they could not do,” he said, referring to the People’s National Movement (PNM).
Rambachan said under the People’s Partnership Government, investor confidence in the energy sector had increased, leading to more bid rounds and to an increase in foreign investment from $3.5 billion in 2010 to $16.1 billion in 2013.
Rambachan also defended Central Bank Governor Jwara Rambarran. Rambachan said Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar had not only held the coalition together but had established the best example of value-based leadership.
Rambachan gave examples of the performance of this Government.
He said Brasso Police Station, which burned down 13 years ago, was going to be reconstructed. He said for 17 years there had been no bridge in Talparo, and this Government had addressed that.
And he said he wanted to debunk the argument that Government was only doing work in one part of the country.
“We don’t govern for one section, we govern for all,” he stated.