Dr Keith Rowley

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Minister of Social Development and Family Services Camille Robinson-Regis attend yesterday’s 14th Sitting of the fifth Session of the 11th Republican Parliament at the Red House, Port of Spain. At left is Finance Minister Colm Imbert.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has accused the United National Congress (UNC) of displaying unmitigated gall to question the Government on the $20 million rent to One Alexandra Place which is owned by the Attorney General’s family.

Pointing out that the UNC government rented the building and left it unoccupied, Rowley stated:

“Your government for five years rented the same One Alexandra Place and mosquitoes, spiders and lizards were the only occupants in that building for the five years and you have the gall to come here and talk about One Alexandra Place and this government.

“When we by contrast used One Alexandra Place, we rented and used it,” he said.

“If the five years that you and your friends paid at One Alexandra without using the building for an hour, if you had used that money, you would not be here today talking about...schools,” the Prime Minister stated.

The Prime Minister was responding during the Prime Minister’s Question time in Parliament to a question asking why the Government had not been able to complete any of the 60 schools which were left at various stages of construction in September 2015.

Naparima MP Rodney Charles had asked why couldn’t Government take some of the money paid in rent to One Alexandra Place to complete the schools.

Caroni East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh said this PNM Government had spent $862 million and still the schools were incomplete.

The Prime Minister blamed the UNC government for this, saying the Government’s first assignment was to pay contractors for work done in 2015.

“Having awarded a truckload of contracts, put contractors to work, paid them the mobilisation fee, which is all the money that most of them got, and allowed them to work on the project without being paid, the figure that was just quoted ($862 million), the bulk of that was to pay the contractors that you (the UNC government) hired and put on contracts who did work and were not paid and that is where the money went.

“And having spent what monies we raised to pay for the liabilities you created, we have now in a second tranche found additional money to take the projects to completion,” he said.

“And that is why those schools are now going to be completed. So the $862 million was payment for contracts that you (the UNC government) entered into and for work that was done without supervision.”

The Prime Minister added that one of the things the Government had to do was to hire quantity surveyors to go into every single one of the schools to determine what had been done and what had not been done, what were liabilities for claims, and negotiate with the contractors.

“You (the UNC government) created this environment and we are fixing it because we get the job done,” he said.

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