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Jet will provoke population

By RICHARDSON DHALAI Thursday, March 6 2008

OPPOSITION Chief Whip Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj yesterday called on Prime Minister Patrick Manning to state whether the Government had agreed to underwrite any losses associated with the purchase of a private jet by State-owned Caribbean Airlines.

He also stated that the initial cost to taxpayers would be in the vicinity of $500M. He made these statements following the weekly meeting of the UNC Alliance executive meeting at Rienzi Complex in Couva last night.

Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday was absent from the meeting since he was invited to attend a reception at President’s House in honour of the visit of Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.

Maharaj who is also the Tabaquite Member of Parliament said Caribbean Airlines, formerly BWIA, had not been restructured to operate at a loss and that the Manning administration had agreed to underwrite the purchase and operation of the luxury jet.

He said Manning had also given instructions on how the jet should be refurbished at a time when some persons in society including pregnant women had to sleep on the floor in hospitals awaiting medical attention.

“Manning will now be known as the man with the three Ps, a palace, private security guards and a private jet. He is going to provoke the population and we are calling on him to give up the jet,” Maharaj said.

Citing the visit by the royal couple, he observed that Prince Charles and Camilla had arrived to start their Caribbean tour on a commercial jetliner. He said: “Manning’s jet would be able to travel from Trinidad to Spain. He thinks he is not a prince but an Emperor.”

He also called for a public inquiry into the purchase of the jet saying there was a conflict of interest in such a purchase.

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