The Prime Minister alleged the former People’s Partnership Government had spent $1 billion in communication, advertising and branding from 2013 to 2015.
This was made up of $700 million spent by the Government, plus about $400 million spent by the National Gas Company (NGC), the latter in contrast to a usual annual figure of $20 million, he said.
Rowley read a NGC document titled Suspicious Transactions from 2010 to 2015, that alleged “a record of deliberate attempts to conceal expenditure, indefensible wastage and siphoning of money.” He said from 2013 to 2015, the NGC spent some $915 million on 46 CSR projects relating to road-works and recreational facilities ($422 million) and communications ($493 million.)
“So NGC became a road-worker and a communicator.” Rowley lamented most projects were in areas other than Port of Spain and Diego Martin.
He said $258 million worth in such contracts for road-works were awarded to one contractor, SIS. “They went back into NGC. Fourteen projects for $274 million were put into PSAL to be awarded without proper process and scrutiny.”
He said a small handful of people got largesse under the former government. Rowley added, “The gravy train done. Good government reach.”
He recalled the Integrity Commission probing him over Landate, and said if they don’t now probe alleged corruption under the PP, they have some explaining to do. Rowley scoffed that an MP had complained to the commission that he was selling his autobiography, and said he had not met any author who made money from such. “One book-selling house told me, ‘We normally sell about 12 copies.’ I gave that book as a donation to a number of young people.
“And I now have to hire a lawyer to protect myself from the Integrity Commission. If you don’t see me here one of those days, it’s because the Integrity Commission has gone with me.”
Rowley hit Persad-Bissessar’s motion as a poor substitute for a no-confidence motion against him. “We are ready for a vote of no confidence,” he said.