Rowley’s attack against the Government came during debate on the bill in the House of Representatives last Friday. House Leader Colm Imbert, Attorney-General John Jeremie, Legal Affairs Minister Peter Taylor and Finance Minister Karen Nunez-Tesheira all slammed Rowley in the debate in the House on Monday, before the bill was passed. Prior to that sitting, Prime Minister Patrick Manning said Rowley was subject to the party’s rules, regulations and disciplinary procedures.
Speaking after the Cabinet held its final meeting before Christmas at the PM”s Office in St Clair, PNM deputy leader Dr Lenny Saith, said it was normal in the PNM’s parliamentary caucus for discussions to be held about who would speak on a bill and determine the party’s strategy for the debate in Parliament. Imbert criticised Rowley for giving “food to the Opposition” in Monday’s debate. Saith said he was not present at the caucus when Rowley indicated he would speak on the bill and could not say whether Rowley should be disciplined.
Minister in the Ministry of Finance Mariano Browne, who will pilot the bill in the Senate next Tuesday, said: “All the things that needed to be said, were said in the House.” Browne added that Government “demonstrated very clearly” what the facts of the legislation were in spite of the fact that it seemed unpalatable to some persons. “Sentiments were expressed but there was no animosity,” he stated.
Senate Vice President George Hadeed confirmed he was present at the caucus which Imbert referred to and said he agreed with Imbert’s version of what happened. Hadeed said what Rowley indicated in the caucus and what he said in the House was “a big contradiction.”
Social Development Minister Dr Amery Browne felt all Government speakers, excluding Rowley, comprehensively debunked “some of the myths” about the property tax legislation that were being advanced by the Opposition and other persons. He refused to comment on whether Rowley should be disciplined. “You should speak to the chairman (Energy Minister Conrad Enill),” Browne said. Efforts to contact Enill yesterday were unsuccessful.
National Security Minister Martin Joseph, the PNM’s general secretary, had no comment to make regarding Rowley’s actions. Minister in the Ministry of Planning, Housing and the Environment Tina Gronlund. Nunez said she was concerned about what happened in Parliament but there were “proper channels” in the PNM through which any issues could be addressed.
St Ann’s East MP Anthony Roberts, who sits next to Rowley in the backbench, said: “ There is nothing to be concerned about.”