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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Tempers flare between Roberts, Al-Rawi in Senate

The de­bate on the Fi­nance Bill de­volved in­to a shout­ing match sev­er­al times be­tween the Gov­ern­ment and the Op­po­si­tion yes­ter­day and forced Sen­ate vice pres­i­dent Nigel De Fre­itas to his feet to quell the ris­ing tem­pers and keep the de­bate fo­cused on the top­ic.

Op­po­si­tion Sen­a­tor Anil Roberts de­liv­ered a pas­sion­ate con­tri­bu­tion and crit­i­cised the de­tails of the Gov­ern­ment Fi­nance (No.2) Bill.

The Bill seeks to crim­i­nalise Ponzi and pyra­mid schemes.

Roberts com­mend­ed the Gov­ern­ment on the launch of the Green Econ­o­my idea, say­ing that it seemed to have al­ready start­ed in To­ba­go, re­fer­ring to the Pro­gres­sive De­mo­c­ra­t­ic Pa­tri­ots’ win over the PNM there.

“It will turn the whole is­land green and yel­low just now,” Roberts said.

Roberts said that the PNM showed that they were out of touch with the peo­ple and ques­tioned why the Gov­ern­ment was spend­ing mon­ey to out­fit a port when they planned on sell­ing it.

“This Fi­nance Bill is the PNM’s an­swer, presents mea­sures that the PNM be­lieves is go­ing to as­sist our econ­o­my and our peo­ple. Yes every­thing, every clause in here, they make the rich rich­er and the mass­es more mar­gin­alised,” he said.

He said the Fi­nance Bill was the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the PNM’s road to re­cov­er plan that was now “pur­chased by the rich.”

“While the poor, down­trod­den, av­er­age cit­i­zen is left lost,” he said.

Roberts said that the Fi­nance Bill was the best ev­i­dence that the PNM was “to­tal­ly out of touch” with the av­er­age cit­i­zens.

He said that the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance came to de­bate the Bill but came with no new in­for­ma­tion on­ly cit­ed me­dia re­ports.

“I thought I was go­ing to lis­ten to hear some fi­nan­cial re­ports, in­ves­tiga­tive re­ports from the FIU, from the Cen­tral Bank, some Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Coun­cil in­for­ma­tion, some­thing se­ri­ous. But we read the same me­dia re­ports,” Roberts said.

Roberts said peo­ple tuned to large sou-sou schemes like the pop­u­lar DSS be­cause they were des­per­ate.

“The PNM comes now to at­tack DSS based on me­dia re­ports?” Roberts asked.

He said that while the Gov­ern­ment was de­ter­mined to pro­tect the in­ter­est of the bil­lion-dol­lar banks but not the small man.

“Why is this PNM Gov­ern­ment on­ly pas­sion­ate about the rich?” Roberts said, adding that it was this at­ti­tude that lost them To­ba­go.

“And Trinidad is wait­ing to go yel­low, so call it,” Roberts said.

In an im­me­di­ate re­but­tal, At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Faris Al-Rawi said he could an­swer Robert’s ques­tions about lack of val­ues in one word.

“Life­s­port,” the At­tor­ney Gen­er­al said.

“Where was that pas­sion when T&T was sub­ject­ed to $500 mil­lion, near­ly half a bil­lion dol­lars in ex­pen­di­ture that found it­self in the hands of crim­i­nals be­fore the courts of T&T. Where was the voice of the then Min­is­ter, now Sen­a­tor who just spoke in de­fend­ing the tax­pay­ers from dou­ble-dip­ping and triple-dip­ping,” Al-Rawi asked.

He said a box lunch cost $7 but was go­ing for $100 with­in the Life­s­port pro­gramme.

“Where was the pas­sion of the Ho­n­ourable Mem­ber in en­sur­ing that gang ac­tiv­i­ty did not end up in al­le­ga­tion of mur­der in this coun­try,” the AG said.

Al-Rawi is­sued a word of warn­ing to Roberts.

“A man who has a his­to­ry such as that should be very care­ful to give ad­vice to the peo­ple of this coun­try,” he said.

While his co­horts thumped the ta­ble, Op­po­si­tion Sen­a­tor Wade Mark sought to have him muz­zled Sen­ate vice pres­i­dent De Fre­itas cau­tioned him to stick to the de­bate top­ic, the AG in­sist­ed that he had the right to re­ply to Roberts.

“He is no per­son that this Gov­ern­ment would take any ad­vice from. None at all,” Al-Rawi said.

BFIA Admin
The big boss.

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