PM Rowley – Opposition undermines T&T and Caricom


T&T Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has criticized UNC for consistently taking steps to undermine the country and Caricom, inside and outside government. Dr Rowley made the statements during a debate on the Caribbean Community Qualified Nationals (Amendment) Bill 2022 in the House of Representatives.
He described an earlier contribution by Naparima MP Rodney Charles as a xenophobic presentation that made him deeply sick. He said Charles’ statements mirrored those made in 1961 by then Jamaican Prime Minister Sir Alexander Bustamante which led to the collapse of the West Indies Federation.
“It touched on all the things that would happen to Jamaica when all these (Caribbean) islanders landed in Jamaica and Jamaica had to find a place and a space for them. History has a way of repeating itself,” Rowley explained.
Charles’ claims also reflect the actions of former UNC and UNC-led administrations, which resulted in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) not being TT’s final court of appeal and that TT has almost been shut out of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).
“Uninformed misdeeds don’t make a policy or a vision,” Rowley recalled. He added that UNC’s initial refusal to support the CCJ as TT’s final appeals court was because there were no judges of Indian descent on its panel.
“Subsequently, with the influx of time and the appointment of an (East Indian) judge on the panel, I saw no change in their position.”
Rowley asked UNC deputies, “When that happened, how come that didn’t temper your objection?”
He recalled that if the PNM had not acted quickly at the start of its mandate after the general elections of September 7, 2015, the statements of the UNC in opposition would have led Jamaica to tell its citizens to boycott the goods imported by TT.
“It’s the result of the behavior of a handful of people who get jobs, take on responsibilities, lead us astray and let us down.”
Rowley said, “UNC has been consistent in letting the TT folks down on matters of great importance.” He added that while Charles’ claims reflected UNC’s position, “we might as well count goodbye to Caricom.”
Recalling the recent memorandum of understanding signed between TT and Guyana on food security, Rowley criticized the UNC for claiming that only Barbados was pursuing bilateral agreements on agriculture with Guyana.
“That is not true. What you see Barbados doing, the same is being done by TT, by Antigua, and we (Caricom countries) are all working together towards the common goal of strengthening Caricom and protect us.
“You cannot conclude bilateral negotiations in Caricom. You’re bound by a treaty, and the treaty says you can’t favor strangers and you must give the same favor to all your neighbors.
Foreign Affairs and Caricom Minister Dr Amery Browne called on UNC to believe in the people of TT and support the principles of regional integration.
“Is that too much to ask? Time will tell us.”

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