PM rejects call to sack AG over car transfer probe

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Minister of State in the Ministry of Education at Ministry of Education Lisa Morris-Julian, left, arrive at the Success Laventille Secondary School to attend a public meeting led by PM Keith Rowley on Saturday. – AYANNA KINSALE

THE Prime Minister has rejected calls from Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar for Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi to be removed based on a police investigation into allegations she made against Al-Rawi regarding the transfer of a vehicle he sold.

On Friday, the AG said he welcomed the police investigation because “the allegations made are completely untrue and the evidence is there to treat with it.”

The issue surrounds the sale of Al-Rawi’s Porche SUV in 2016 to attorney Roger Kawalsingh, a former member of the Police Service Commission and allegations that the vehicle had not been transferred to the new owner to avoid payment of taxes.

Speaking at a public meeting at Success Secondary School, in Laventille on Saturday, Rowley responded to the repeated calls from the Opposition Leader.

He said he has instructed Al-Rawi to provide an update of the various investigations and civil litigation involving UNC members and believes that lies at the heart of their refusal to support the passage of whistleblower legislation. In the coming months, the Government will bring and pass campaign finance and local government reform legislation to Parliament.

“After what they said yesterday in the Parliament. I have instructed the Attorney General to come to the Parliament and give you the people, a summary of all the matters that we have been involved in so far. Give you a summary of all the claims that were being made.”

“Claims that have been settled and not settled to let you get a flavour of what we have been dealing.”

Rowley said the UNC does not want the public to know anything about these matters. “You see the secrecy that they want is what they are hiding behind. I am not keeping any secret for anybody again in this country. I will tell you everything I know.”

While he will not reveal details of matters which are sub judice (in court), Rowley said, “Sub judice does not mean you have to be ignorant about what is going on around you with your assets and your money. You need to know.”

Outside of Parliament, he declared, “From today going forward, there will be a continuous series of meetings between the population and the Prime Minister by conversations.”

PNM Youth League members arrive at the Success Laventille Secondary School for a meeting led by PM Keith Rowley on Saturday. – AYANNA KINSALE

After a year and a half of people enduring UNC weekly public fora, Rowley said, “During that time, cat away, mice play. The PNM has returned to the battleground.”

In defending Al-Rawi, Rowley asked what was Persad-Bissessar’s seeming obsession with Al-Rawi. Looking at the Cabinet ministers in the audience before him, Rowley said, “If there is a requirement for a minister to be removed from the Cabinet, ask any of them. I will be the first to remove them.”

But he asked, “I am supposed to move Faris because Kamla wrote a letter?” Recalling that years ago, a matter involving himself and the delayed transfer of a vehicle was eventually resolved in his favour. Rowley asked whether he should have resigned from office then.

Noting the UNC recently tried to make an issue out of him sipping a beer in public while on vacation in Tobago, Rowley opined this made Persad-Bissessar believe she would be prime minister again. He also believed the renewed attacks by Persad-Bissessar and the UNC against Al-Rawi were aimed at distracting public attention away from questions the UNC had to answer while in government from May 2010 to September 2015.

Referring to Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal’s claims that Government is targeting UNC members, Rowley said, “Who does he want us to go after? Keith Mitchell in Grenada?” Under TT’s laws and jurisprudence, he continued, “You go after people who have questions to answer. That is accountability.”

Rowley questioned why the UNC would try to mislead the population with claims about the Port of Spain Hospital’s central block and part of a collapsed roadway at Mosquito Creek but refused to answer why, during its tenure in office, a clause in the Point Fortin Highway extension project’s contract was removed to now put TT in a position where it could lose $921 million if it loses ongoing arbitration proceedings with former contractor OAS Construtora.

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