United National Congress (UNC) leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday said the collapse of the Police Service Commission will remain as a “’stain” in the country’s history, as she again raised the relationship of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to Inez Investments and PSC member designate Maxine King.
During the debate on the nominations last week, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal tried to raise the links in Parliament but was shut down by the Speaker.
Speaking at the UNC’s Monday Night Forum last night, Persad-Bissessar again alleged that the principals of Inez and Rowley go way back. She also called on President Paula-Mae Weekes to explain the criteria for choosing King for the PSC.
“Our independent institutions are under attack from this Rowley dictatorship,” she said, adding that the President was aiding in that attack.
“Two of the highest offices in the land have serious questions.”
Persad-Bissessar reiterated information already in the public domain that a high-ranking Government official intervened in the delivery of the merit list for Commissioner of Police to the President.
Last week, the Parliament met and debated the five new nominees for the PSC and while the UNC raised several objections to three of them — King, Maxin Attong and Ian Ramdhanie — the nominations were accepted on the PNM’s votes.
However, Persad-Bissessar said the country must still know what caused the previous PSC’s collapse, adding she also wanted to ensure there was no bias in the new PSC.
“We do not want this present one to collapse as well. This is why the Opposition was very specific to ask for the vetting of nominees,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said while in Opposition under former UNC leader Basdeo Panday, former Prime Minister Patrick Manning called a meeting to fix the rising crime rates.
“The thinking then was that the Police Commissioner was a toothless bulldog, he had no power and therefore something had to be done,” she said.
She said back then the Prime Minister had veto power over whoever appointed to the CoP
“I was part of that team, I am very proud to say, where we tried to make some changes,” she said.
She said that names were submitted to the Prime Minister to decide on the CoP and he could veto those suggestions but no one knew whose name was submitted except the Prime Minister.
Persad-Bissessar said they removed the veto and instead gave the PSC the job to send the names to the President, who would then sends that list to Parliament for debate.
“So should there be matters that are questionable, they can be raised and the public would know which names are sent forward, the public would know what are the concerns, that was the whole thinking,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said now, the Opposition has been stopped from even raising questions about the nominees.
“So what is the point? Do we just go read a resume and vote?” she asked.
Persad-Bissessar said the PNM was failing in all sectors of the country.
“Everything is in shambles,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said crime and poverty were on the rise while businesses were suffering from the pandemic and related shutdowns.
She said with billions spent by the Government over the past few years, there was nothing to show for it.
“They took it for their friends, for their family and for their financiers. They have no plans whatsoever to grow the economy and to manage the cost of living and the standard of living in our country,” she said.