PM not distracted by Guyana VP’s ‘Trinidad falling apart’ remarks

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Bharrat Jagdeo, vice president of Guyana. –

THE Prime Minister has said he was not distracted nor concerned by the comments made by a Guyanese politician about the state of TT’s economy.

On Saturday, Dr Rowley at a media conference on the lifting of covid19 restrictions held at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s said there were many comments in the public which has been both good and bad, but he was not concerned.

“There are a lot of people in Guyana, and I am not really distracted by Vice President Jagdeo’s comments about us. A lot of people comment about us, some favourably and some not. We will not be distracted by that,” Rowley said.

Earlier this week Guyana’s Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo said TT was falling apart because a lack of diversification away from its oil and gas sector.

He said, “Trinidad is falling apart, and that’s putting it mildly – falling apart! No jobs, sustained periods of negative growth and can’t see the light of day for the near future.”

Jagdeo has come under heavy criticism since and at a media conference on Friday, he defended his statements, adding that a lot of Trinidadians agreed with him.

“I have tracked what is going on TT for quite a while and what I have said is not anything new.

“This has nothing to do with just Rowley, this is the fact of the economy in TT over a long period growing to rely only on one sector,” he said.

Jagdeo – a former president of his country – said he referenced TT’s economy to highlight to Guyana that it should be mindful of how it manages its wealth from its new found oil and gas sector.

“We are determined in Guyana to avoid going down that path, which has happened not just in TT but in many countries of the world,” he said.

Further, he said over the years Guyanese nationals entering TT have been treated horribly and will not be bullied into making decisions about its economy.

Jagdeo said, “Somehow, they feel they have a God-given right to displace Guyanese too, in our own country from our own resources. We are not going to standby and allow that to happen.

“I don’t care who cuss me or what the cuss me for. We are not going to discriminate against Trinidadians, we want Trinidadian business to come here. But they have to come in partnership with our people. Their attitude has to change, we suffered a long time the indignity of this judgment of our people.”

The question of diplomatic tension between both countries has now become a cause of concern with Foreign Affairs and Caricom Minister Dr Amery Browne reportedly contacting Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Hilton Todd on the issue. Browne is expected to address the issue in a statement on Monday.

The local business community said while they understood the point Jagdeo was trying to make; his pursuit of the matter was distasteful.

TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce CEO Ian De Souza told Sunday Newsday said that while Jagdeo was referring to the structural issues within TT economy, his approach could have been different.

“While his choice of words may not have been ideal, the issues are well understood and, more importantly, are being addressed in the national economic transformation debate and in the supporting initiatives.

“Relations between both countries have always been cordial and, as a fellow Caricom nation, it can be expected that these relations will underscore whatever support can be provided to Guyana in the development of its energy sector,” he said.

President of the Confederation of Regional Business Chambers Vivek Charran said while Jagdeo was trying to warn Guyana about the lack of diversification in an economy, it was in “poor diplomatic taste” and made his remarks seem more pejorative in nature.

“It’s not a class act to tear down another country or organisation or an individual to bolster your own self esteem we should expect more from our Caribbean leaders.”

Jagdeo’s comments come as the TT Manufacturers Association (TTMA) begins a trade mission in Guyana tomorrow. Sunday Newsday was unable to reach TTMA executives for a comment on the issue.

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