The letter authored by Mr. Peter Taylor, and referred to on the front page of today’s edition of the Newsday newspaper, was received by the Political Leader of the People’s National Movement some time ago, and alleged in the main that Mr. Taylor’s emails, telephone calls and SMS messages were being monitored by a state security agency over which the Political Leader has no control.
The letter then went on to suggest that text messages originating from Mr. Taylor’s mobile telephone are being contrived and crafted, by one can only assume the state security agency, into ‘suggestive conversations’ between a woman (who is not Mr. Taylor’s girlfriend/fiancée) and Mr. Taylor. These ‘suggestive conversations’ are then being sent to the mobile telephone of Mr. Taylor’s girlfriend/fiancée in an attempt to sow seeds of discord.
The letter then alleges that the Political Leader attempted to caution Mr. Taylor’s girlfriend/fiancée about Mr. Taylor’s purported indiscretions. This allegation is simply ridiculous and is denied. The Political Leader does not have the time nor the will to get involved in the personal relationships of others, especially those he does not know.
The letter was immediately passed to the Political Leader’s attorneys for advice, which was to deposit the letter into the file which contains the many letters received just prior to an election, the contents of which are absolutely unbelievable, would not be taken seriously by the public, would simply be a waste of precious resources if it were to be addressed any further, and would run the risk of giving the author attention which he does not warrant.
Consideration was also given to the fact that:
(i) Mr. Taylor was not selected to contest the Moruga/Tableland seat in the 2010 General Election;
(ii) Mr. Taylor left the People’s National Movement in 2011;
(iii) Mr. Taylor formed the United Free Movement, a political party in 2012; and
(iv) Mr. Taylor was again not selected to contest the Moruga/Tableland seat for the PNM for the 2015 General Election.
What was also of great assistance in consigning the letter to the aforementioned file, and which was quite interestingly omitted from the article in the Newsday is that the letter was also copied to Mr. Chuck Hagel, Former Secretary of Defence of the United States of America in the Obama administration and Mrs. Madeline Albight, Former Secretary of State of the United States of America in the Clinton Administration.
This letter was authored and widely circulated some two (2) weeks ago, with respect to matters which allegedly occurred in the year 2014 and early 2015. No other media house has chosen to even raise the letter with the Political Leader, one would suspect as a consequence of the contents being so quite obviously unbelievable. It is regrettable that the Newsday, which would have covered events attended by the Political Leader up to Friday of last week, did not see it fit to raise the proposed article with him, so that he could have brought the aforementioned matters to their attention.
An impending election is no basis for a media house to discard its responsibilities, and the proper exercise of discretion, as to what is in fact a credible and newsworthy story.
People’s National Movement
August 30th 2015
The People’s National Movement has taken note of comments made by Dr. Roger Hosein, a UWI lecturer, about our pledge to reduce VAT by 2.5% from 15% to 12.5%, within the first year of office.
Dr. Hosein is reported in the Guardian Newspaper as saying that the proposed reduction in VAT is a bad idea, since it will result in the loss of over $5 billion in revenue.
The PNM rejects Dr. Hosein’s unempirical and unscientific statements outright.
His statements about VAT fly in the face of reality and are merely a word-for-word regurgitation of statements made on UNC platforms by UNC spokesmen, who are clearly terrified at the political goodwill that has resulted from the forward looking and progressive measures in the PNM’s comprehensive Manifesto. Clearly, the UNC and its friends have no interest in lowering the cost of living in Trinidad and Tobago. In desperation, as their imminent defeat looms, they are grasping at any straw in an attempt to boost their dwindling stocks.
In making his politically charged statements, Dr. Hosein has done no analysis or examination of the history of tax reform in Trinidad and Tobago. He has ignored the fact that after the PNM adjusted the income tax regime in 2006, by increasing the personal allowance from $24,000 per year to $60,000 per year and reducing the overall tax rate to 25%, the collection of personal income tax increased by over 50%, from $4 billion to over $6 billion.
Further, it is an indisputable fact that the progressive lowering of tax rates in Trinidad and Tobago over the last 30 years has resulted in a quantum leap in tax collections and an exponential increase in revenue. Any economist worth his salt will know that, and it is disappointing that a Senior Lecturer at UWI could make the irresponsible statements attributed to Dr. Hosein in today’s Guardian.
It is noteworthy that this is the same Dr. Hosein, who, towards the end of 2014, illogically praised Finance Minister Larry Howai for basing the 2015 Budget on what he strangely described at the time as a “conservative“ oil price of $80 barrel.
It should also be noted that Dr. Hosein has been the beneficiary of lucrative consultancies during the PP Government’s tenure, and, therefore, cannot by any stretch of the imagination be viewed as an objective commentator. Indeed, the record will show that he is a long standing associate and collaborator of the current UNC Minister of Planning, Dr. Bhoe Tewarie.
The Heliconia Foundation For Young Professionals has filed two applications at the High Court of Judicature asking the Court for leave to judicially review the actions of the Attorney General Mr. Garvin Nicholas and Minister of Food Production Mr. Devant Maharaj for the failure and undue delay of the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Food Production in responding to numerous Freedom of Information Requests.
This action by the Foundation comes on the heels of 15 pre-action letters sent in May 2015 against Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar and responsible Ministers in which the Foundation complained of the government’s systematic failure to respond to questions on the number of persons terminated, not renewed and the number of new persons employed by the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Food Production from June 2010 to November 2014 as well as the reasons for their termination and non-renewal.
The Foundation’s evidence is in the form of affidavits and accompanying exhibits filed by President of the Foundation Mr. Michael Coppin and Vice-President Mr. Vyash Nandlal (who is also joined as an applicant in the application against the Minister of Food Production) and outline in detail the chronology of the purported breaches by Attorney General and the Minister of Food Production from November 2014 to August 2015.
The Foundation’s current legal team includes Mr. Farid Scoon and Mr. Saeed Trotter and efforts are underway to retain a battery of lawyers to review the vast breaches of the Freedom of Information Act by the present government in responding to the Foundation’s questions.
To date, a number of these requests under the Freedom of Information Act sent by the Foundation and several of its members (including several Councilors and an Alderman) remain unanswered and completely unacknowledged. While the Ministry of Food Production has been served with the application, attempts to serve the Attorney General at his office on Friday 14 August 2015 were futile as it was rejected by Ministry officials.
The Foundation also plans to release the information received by some Ministries including the Office of the Prime Minister following the pre-action letters in the coming weeks for public comment and scrutiny and for investigation by the relevant authorities.
Heliconia Foundation For Young Professionals The Heliconia Foundation For Young Professionals is a progressive think thank dedicated to promoting youth participation in decision making.
August 17th 2015
Senator the Honourable Mr. Garvin Nicholas
Office of the Attorney General
Nos. 23-27 St. Vincent Street
Dear Attorney General,
RE: PUBLIC UTTERANCES MADE ON SUNDAY 9TH AUGUST 2015 AT MARKET SQUARE SCARBOROUGH
We thank you for your letter of August 13th 2015, addressed to our client, The Honourable Dr.
Keith Rowley, which has been passed to us for advice and response.
We are very deeply concerned that as the purported “guardian of the public interest”, you have,
in seeking to obtain further and better particulars with respect to the statements made by our
client on the threat to his life, wholly predetermined the matter by describing his statements as
outrageous, scandalous, false, baseless, inflammatory, provocative, slanderous and libellous.
You have also, without obtaining the facts, sought to refer our client to section 8 of the Libel
and Defamation Act Chap 11:16.
You would no doubt appreciate that as the holder of the Office of the Attorney General, and in
accordance with your oath of office, you are expected to conscientiously, impartially and to the
best of your ability discharge your duties and do right to all manner of people without fear or
favour, affection or ill-will. However, in this instance, where the Leader of the Opposition has
informed the public of a real threat to his life, which was brought to his attention by no less than
the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, you have most regrettably permitted yourself to taint
your office by permitting partisan politics to inform your judgment.
Your wholly unfair and injudicious approach to this matter as the Attorney General of Trinidad
and Tobago has resulted in our client being disinclined to involve you in what is a very serious
matter, with no room for political gamesmanship. Suffice it to say, that the threats to our client
are very real, and the statements made by him are premised on information and advice given to
him from persons at the highest levels of the national security apparatus in Trinidad and Tobago,
after their own independent assessment and action.
As a consequence of the foregoing, while you are clearly free to communicate with the Integrity
Commission and the Council for Responsible Political Behaviour if you so choose, our client
will be communicating with both the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Commissioner of
Police to express to them his very serious concern that they not share any information
whatsoever with you insofar as this on-going investigation is concerned.
Finally, as you have so clearly recognised, our client uttered the words of which you complain
during a speech at a public meeting. It is therefore somewhat surprising that we would have to
point out to you that when defamatory words (which of course, insofar as our client’s statements
are concerned, we deny as being defamatory) are spoken and not written, that would constitute
slander and not libel. Accordingly, your use of the word ‘libellous’ and reference to section 8 of
the Libel and Defamation Act is simply misconceived.
Please be guided accordingly.
AL-RAWI & CO.
The People’s National Movement (PNM) categorically denies that Political Leader, Dr. Keith Rowley has announced at a public meeting that a PNM Government will establish a smelter plant in La Brea.
This misinformation is now being peddled by the head of the Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) Gary Aboud who made the unfounded claim in a television interview on Wednesday August 12.
The PNM wishes to remind the national community that Dr. Rowley’s address at Pt. D’Or La Brea promised a plywood industry and he further indicated that “such a move will uplift the area and increase jobs for residents.”
In order to dispel the wrong impression that the PNM intends to revert to the smelter, it is absolutely necessary that the national community and Gary Aboud in particular be reminded of exactly what Dr. Rowley said at the public meeting: “It was the PNM that believed this country could sell steel, methanol and urea, and it is the PNM that is now saying in La Brea plywood could be sold.”
He further stated, “The United States, our neighbor and our major trading partner, uses millions of tons of plywood every year. What do we have in Trinidad and Tobago that could allow us to target that industry? We don’t have the wood, but we have the electricity and we have the hydro – carbon adhesives and we have Caricom neighbours that have plenty wood.”
Dr. Rowley went on to inform the La Brea community that with the Caricom neighbours of Guyana and Surinam, using Trinidad and Tobago adhesives and electricity Trinidad and Tobago can create a plywood industry for export.
The PNM has listed this project as a priority to the extent that discussions have already taken place with potential investors around the world.
It is also on record that Dr. Rowley has openly stated that “…one of the first things the next government will do is ask the relevant ministry to pursue the possibility, and such an industry will be located here in La Brea.”
Additionally, Dr. Rowley noted that the area had one of the best ports in the country which will be used for importing the material which will be manufactured for export – such an industry will give rise to other industries and increase jobs in La Brea, an area well known for intractably high unemployment.
In the circumstances, the PNM is calling on Mr. Aboud to desist from misleading the nation on the issue of the smelter project in La Brea.
It is to be noted also that for the last five years Dr. Rowley has posed the question to the Prime Minister to inform the country what was the cost of terminating the smelter plant project in La Brea. To date that question remains unanswered.
The PNM reiterates that the policies and programmes of the party will be presented to the national community at the launch of the candidates on Saturday August 15 at Woodford Square, Port of Spain.