“I want to tell Kamla Persad-Bissessar something tonight. Not all East Indians in politics are thieves.”
So thundered Works Minister Rohan Sinanan as he waded into Opposition Leader Persad-Bissessar, who had accused him of impropriety in the construction of a bridge in Cumuto/Manzanilla, which passed through private lands which belonged partly to him.
Sinanan said he had requested $1 from the Government for the use of his land.
He said he wanted Persad-Bissessar to know that there were honest East Indian people who can act as ministers in this country.
“Most of them would be found in the PNM, unfortunately,” he said during a PNM public meeting in Sangre Grande last night.
Sinanan said he had written to the Integrity Commission since June 22, 2018, declaring his interest in this project and seeking the commission’s guidance on whether there was any breach of the Integrity in Public Life Act.
“The licence that the Government had to sign with me was for use of the land which I own. I told the ministry to go ahead and build the bridge. They said ‘no, no, we have to pay’. I said ‘I don’t want no money for the use of the land. But the Integrity Commission, the lawyers advised that we have to do a lease... I have the lease here. You know what is the value of the lease? One dollar,” he said, to applause.
He said the Government saved $2 million.
“(Persad-Bissessar) wanted to know how much money I got. Well I told them, one dollar is all I want,” he said.
He said the ministry moved in and built the bridge “and I still ain’t get meh dollar yet. So tonight I asking Kamla, can I really go for that one dollar? The answer is no. The land that the State would acquire to straighten the river to alleviate the flooding, and it is not only from Rohan Sinanan but from others, will be paid for by the Commissioner of Valuations under the Ministry of Finance and that process has not been completed.”
Sinanan spoke of the level of theft that went on in the Persad-Bissessar government.
He said Persad-Bissessar was also asking questions about the Curepe Interchange, which this PNM Government was constructing for $300 million less than the UNC had budgeted.
“But Kamla Persad-Bissessar want to come and accuse me for getting one dollar. Tell Kamla Persad-Bissessar I say ‘Go to hell”.
He said the Opposition Leader was accusing him of stealing a bridge and putting it on his land so the Government could pay him for it.
“This lady have to be mad. I went to the Integrity Commission, I went through the process and I owned the land in 2008, before I went into Government.”
He said when she won the general election, she went by “Gopaul” because the house she was living in was not thought to be fit for a prime minister.
He pointed to a picture of “a mansion” which he said belonged to Persad-Bissessar which was built between 2010 and 2015.
“Look at that. Is the first country where the Opposition Leader house bigger than the Prime Minister (official) residence,” he said.
He said the UNC officials could not, like him, explain everything that was on their Integrity Commission form because “what they own is on other people name”.
“Everything Rohan Sinanan owns is declared on his Integrity form and you could go to Legal Affairs and check everything.”
Quoting from the letter written by him to the Integrity Commission, Sinanan said: “This letter is dated June 18, 2018. (Persad-Bissessar) now come to buss mark.”
He said the letter stated: “As Minister of Works and Transport and having responsibility for Nidco... and also being aware that I am a person in public life for the purpose of the Integrity in Public Life Act, I am duty-bound to disclose my personal interest in these matters to the Integrity Commission.
“I would be indeed grateful for your urgent guidance before signing the attached licenced agreement for the purpose mentioned above. I would be particularly grateful if you can indicate to me whether the intended signing of the attached licence agreement would in any way conflict with my duty under the Integrity in Public Life Act and in any way constitute a breach of any of the provisions of the said act.”
He said he got a response dated July 4, indicating receipt of the letter and stating that it would duly respond.
The meeting was also invigorated by the presence of Rajcoomar Bhagaloo, who crossed over from the UNC.
Bagaloo said the UNC ship was full of rats and roaches, flies and mosquitoes and the captain was always in a particular state.
He said the PNM ship had a “sweet aroma”.
“Kamla say I was a reject. Well the Bible says the stone that the builder reject will become the foundation stone,” he said, to loud applause.