“You all didn’t say a word to support her,” an irate Warner told them. “She was saying that you can’t just give money unless you give your contractors work. I didn’t read a single word from anybody and this concerns all the contractors more than anybody else.”
Warner was delivering the Keynote Address at the TT Contractors Association Annual Awards Banquet at the Hilton Trinidad in Port-of-Spain. Persad-Bissessar had come under fire from several quarters for her statement in the aftermath of Hurricane Tomas which ravaged St Lucia and other Caribbean islands last week.
Insisting he made no apology for supporting Persad-Bissessar, Warner lamented that the Prime Minister was subjected to unfair criticism for her remarks. (SEE PAGE 13A) He recalled that years ago “when the Americans had given us money, we had to buy American toilets.”
Warner extended kudos to contractor Emile Elias whom he said completely agreed with Persad-Bissessar’s stance on the issue.
“Who want to vex, vex and who don’t want to buy local goods don’t buy. Let’s take care of our own because charity begins at home,” he stated. On another note the minister said he was glad to see that Elias, President of the Contractors’ Association Mikey Joseph, and others had accompanied Persad-Bissessar on her trip. “That could not have happened before May (General Elections),” he said alluding to the former PNM government.
Warner said the devastation in St Lucia provided an opportunity for local contractors to showcase their talents. Telling them they had the support of the People’s Partnership, Warner said, “Contractors, your role is critical, for without you nothing will get built. In 2011, turn your swords into plowshares, but it has to be a collaborative effort between contractors and Government.” Warner also assured the gathering that under the Partnership, there will be no tall buildings constructed on the waterfront. He said as far as possible, local contractors will be the preferred choice for projects.
During the event, the association presented former Chairman of the TT Transparency Institute, Victor Hart, with a lifetime award for his contribution to the industry.