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UNC warns of ‘election goodies’ from PM

UNC warns of ‘election goodies’ from PM

The United National Congress (UNC) has acknowledged that T&T is on the cusp of general election and has warned the public not to be fooled by “election goodies”.

UNC MP Saddam Hosein made the appeal at yesterday’s UNC media briefing, saying, “We must unite and hold strong, because we’re on the eve of a general election and T&T cannot sustain another five years of this PNM. I call on all right-thinking citizens and patriots, let’s band together and remove this Rowley PNM Government.”

Hosein replied to and rebutted Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s statements at last Thursday’s PNM Chaguanas meeting. Rowley had said an election is due “sometime soon”, the public would be advised and it may be one of the most significant elections T&T’ has ever had.

Hosein said, “We’re on the cusp of an election. The Prime Minister, at his meeting on Thursday in Chaguanas East, signalled clearly T&T is on an election footing and we’ve seen he has dusted off his propaganda playbook and he’s coming again to the public with lies and misinformation. I want to set the record right on some of the misinformation.”

On speculation there would be no early elections, Hosein said, “I think those political analysts would have made those comments in relation to there may not be an election before a budget. Based on Dr Rowley’s comments, it seems as though he’s in heavy campaign mode—you can tell from the roll-out of meetings, from the propaganda on the platforms.

“But nothing prevents the Government from coming in a mid-year review, passing a supplementation budget to increase expenditure on the initial budget that was passed and you might very well see a lot of ‘election goodies’ in that bag and we ask the people of T&T—don’t be fooled. PNM couldn’t have delivered in the last nine years— they won’t be able to deliver in the next year.”

Hosein also reiterated the UNC’s call for Rowley to say if the issue with the Strategic Services Agency (SSA) was allegedly due to “two senior Cabinet members’ phones being tapped” and intercepted.

He claimed the National Security Council met last Friday, the Cabinet met last Saturday night and by 4 am, the SSA “was locked down”.

Hosein said Rowley couldn’t hide behind the “veil of National Security” to duck answers, since the SSA has had $2.1 billion in taxpayer funding since 2015.

Slamming Rowley’s various statements at the PNM meeting, Hosein said not a single UNC minister is before a criminal court for corruption for their duty over 2010-2015.

He said after claims that PNM had “so much corruption information, yet nine years later, they can’t do nothing”!

He denied the Opposition didn’t support anti-crime legislation. Saying UNC supported 35-plus bills from 201 to 2023, Hosein listed them. He accused the PNM of non-support for certain bills in the People’s Partnership government’s tenure, including to have the death penalty for the most heinous murders.

On Government’s youth programmes, Hosein cited statistics, noting lesser intakes and funding for programmes.

Defending Professor Selwyn Cudjoe against Rowley’s dismissal of Cudjoe’s call to measure his wealth, Hosein, who noted Rowley’s salary and properties listed in Integrity declarations, said, “You’re not beyond reproach—you’re accountable to the people.”

Hosein accused Rowley of “degrading and berating” the Opposition Leader on the eve of last Friday’s International Womens’ Day celebration.

He congratulated Miss T&T Aché Abrahams, who was adjudged Miss World Americas and the Caribbean on Saturday and also extended condolences on the passing of the late Reginald Dumas, whom Hosein said was a giant.

SRC pay hike still in play

Hosein also said Government didn’t reject the Salaries Review Commission’s report which proposed increasing the PM’s salary to $80,000. He said Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s statement on the report didn’t identify the proposed increase for the Prime Minister as among the “anomalies” in the report.

Hosein said Imbert said a list of anomalies were identified and it was sent back to SRC, giving them a two-month dealine to report to Cabinet and even if the anomalies existed, Cabinet would take a decision.

Hosein said while a 33 per cent increase was proposed for the PM and Government wasn’t reassessing its spending on millions on rentals, loans’ interest and for “friends, families and financiers” it was giving people four per cent and seeking to implement property tax.

Urging citizens to file their objections to the tax, Hosein said, “That’s your right,”

But he said Government did not appoint a Valuations Tribunal which will hear disputes if people are dissatisfied with results they get from their initial objection on the tax to the Commissioner of Valuations.

Hosein claimed Imbert, in a Budget statement, said the tribunal was appointed. But Hosein said when he checked with the President, who he said was responsible for appointment, she said she had not appointed the tribunal.

“I have all the correspondence, so how can we trust this Goverment,” he added.

Hosein said the UNC had one question for the Prime Minister: “Is this entire issue at the SSA due to two senior Cabinet ministers’ phones being tapped and intercepted?”

He said the Prime Minister could not hide behind the veil of silence.

Hosein also spoke on property tax, saying dissatisfied home owners have been receiving exorbitant assessments. He also questioned the composition of the valuations tribunal.

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