Ugly PNM scenes

Last Friday in the Lower House debate on two Bills to introduce the new tax, Dr Rowley said the public is largely unhappy about having to pay the tax hikes to fund alleged large-scale Government squandermania, and by Monday the Government had hit back.

Dr Rowley alleged that his constituents, at both ends of the social spectrum, have expressed their “anger, anxiety and resentment” towards the property tax.

In an apparent reference to recent claims by Finance Minister Karen Nunez-Tesheira that the population accepts the tax, he scoffed that the Government should stop taking its own advice that nobody is annoyed over the hikes. He said that while people are not opposed to taxation per se, they did think the tax hikes could have been averted by wiser expenditure previously. Rowley queried the sums householders would be paying — perhaps in reference to Nunez-Tesheira’s claim that the average residential payment would be just $81 per month.

“I suspect the three percent will be on valuations considerably higher than is being made out to be,” he cautioned, saying the three percent tax would be imposed on the rentable value of houses of price tag valued at $1 million or $2 million.

On Monday, Lower House Colm Imbert hit out in a largely personal attack at Dr Rowley, accusing him of losing his reason, especially over the issue of Udecott and its executive chairman, Calder Hart. The same day, elsewhere, Manning himself called Rowley’s speech, “purely emotive and designed to promote an emotional response.”

What is clear from Friday and Monday is that the knives are out, within the PNM.

While there is talk of the PNM now “disciplining” Dr Rowley, we recall last year June on the other hand Dr Rowley telling party members to stand up against the “small clique” that he said has taken over the PNM.

Although Manning did not speak on Monday but rather left his Ministers to reply to Rowley, the severity of their attack immediately brought back recollections of Manning’s harsh attack on Rowley last October in his “raging bull” speech on the Validation Bill to retroactively approve the Uff Commission of Inquiry into Udecott.

We note that while last Friday Rowley merely criticised the property tax bills, in contrast the Government descended to attacking the personality of Dr Rowley.

It’s almost like saying, if you can’t win the argument, just attack the man himself.

On Monday, Imbert’s claim that Rowley has “lost all reason” was clearly a continuation of efforts by Manning last October to try to paint Rowley as a man supposedly blinded by hate. We find such personal attacks on Dr Rowley to be highly objectionable and totally unacceptable. The personal nature of the attacks on Monday clearly violated the parliamentary standing orders, against imputing improper motives to an MP, and we wonder why it was allowed to happen.

Some might even say the fact that so many ministers were apparently roped in to attack Dr Rowley, is an indication of Government desperation. Last week was painful for the Government, given the anti-tax protests outside Red House, and the crash of the Copenhagen climate change talks, into whose forerunners — the Fifth Summit of the Americas and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting — the Government had invested so much money.

If it were not for the distractions of Christmas and soon Carnival, the Government could have found itself in more trouble than it is already in, over the tax hikes on the heels of so much unpopular expenditure such as the Tarouba Stadium.


"Ugly PNM scenes"

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