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Sunday 25 March 2018

PM: Rowley’s Lifesport claims reckless, dishonest

“Reckless and dishonest in the extreme,” was the response of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to recent claims by PNM leader and Opposition Leader, Dr Keith Rowley, that the LifeSport programme was being used to “fund criminal elements in the East/West Corridor ahead of the 2015 General Election.” In a strongly-worded statement yesterday, Persad-Bissessar said this was yet another “calculated and underhanded attempt by Dr Rowley and the PNM to mislead the population.” She then called on the Opposition Leader to “stop using distortions of facts to fix his poor credibility ratings and failed leadership of his party.”

The PM then referred to reports published on Thursday which, she said, quoted Rowley as saying the plan to misuse the LifeSport programme “fell apart with the May 4 murder of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal,’ which, he said, ‘alerted security agencies to corrupt practices’.”

Rowley made the allegation on Tuesday night at a Peoples National Movement (PNM) public meeting in Arima. He told supporters that he never received a reply to a request to the Ministry for $40,000 for a football competition in his Diego Martin West Constituency but Government was able to approve $6 million for the Lifesport programme and that sum then grew “overnight” to some $130 million, with a recent Auditor-General’s Report concluding some serious findings of wrongdoing. Persad-Bissessar said the fact that an audit has been mandated for the LifeSport programme “is enough to make Dr Rowley’s deceptive claim (of funding criminal elements) baseless and without merit.”

The PM went further, arguing that Rowley’s claims “point to confusion in his mind; he may not yet have realised that the PNM’s approach to Government of using State agencies to fund criminal gangs was rejected four years ago. He clearly believes that we are operating the way he did in Government. His allegations are a complete distortion.”

She also said it was “even more irresponsible to attempt to deliberately mislead the public in (Rowley’s) attempts to fix the very serious credibility problem suffered by himself and his Opposition party.” Persad-Bissessar then claimed that the criminal element which her Government is currently waging war on was previously nurtured during the PNM’s nine years in office.

“Dr Rowley was there, he knows what the PNM did. He condoned it. And now this brazen and pitiful attempt to re-write history and cast the blame elsewhere makes clear that Rowley has no intention of fixing the party, but rather inflicting the same failed PNM on our country again,” Persad-Bissessar stated.

“Dr Rowley is finding it difficult to provide any credible defence for the PNM’s tenure,” she claimed, “and is now fabricating lies to blame others for his party’s failures. Such deliberate distortion damages whatever credibility Rowley has left and demonstrates that in order to get the public’s attention he would do, say and promise anything, regardless of whether it is the truth.”

Persad-Bissessar then said, “This not only makes Dr Rowley and the Opposition a threat to the fundamental tenets of democracy, it makes them a very dangerous threat to our country. Nothing Dr Rowley says can be taken seriously. He simply cannot be trusted or believed.”


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