Opposition Leader to pursue PM’s townhouse “breach”; says something amiss

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Opposition Leader to pursue PM’s townhouse “breach”; says something amiss

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said the recent decision by the Integrity Commission to discontinue investigations against Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley can be seen as institutions failing to hold government accountable.

She also criticised the Prime Minister’s response to non-compliance with the Integrity Commission’s declaration requirements in 2019, describing it as “weak.”

In a Newsday interview on Tuesday afternoon, she said, “The commission’s letter clearly stated that he did not file that for the townhouse in Tobago.

She was referring to a letter from the commission to Barataria MP Saddam Hosein, in response to his query on why Dr Rowley was not thoroughly investigated by the commission over his omission.

Hosein raised with the commission Rowley’s alleged failure to declare a townhouse at Shirvan in Tobago which he and his wife had purchased. In July, during a PNM political meeting, Rowley announced that the commission had “finally come to their senses” and cleared him on that matter.

Persad-Bissessar said: “I think everyone is entitled to clear their name, but I do not believe that what he has now put out can stand the test of clearing him. It will not clear him because the Integrity Commission letter is very clear.”

But the commission admitted, in its letter to Hosein, that there may have been breaches of the Integrity in Public Life Act regarding the townhouse but concluded there was no criminal offence, as the PM did not knowingly provide false information in his declaration. As such, the commission said, that matter was closed.

Rowley has since released confidential documents on social media to counteract what he described as “the persistent misrepresentation” surrounding his compliance with the Integrity in Public Life Act.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon, he posted a five-page declaration of income and assets and liabilities for 2019 to the commission.

However, Persad-Bissessar said the UNC will continue to pursue the matter.

She said he has failed the public. He has failed the public interest by failing to include in his form B, the matter that we are speaking about.”

Persad-Bissessar said something had to be amiss, since information provided by the commission does not reflect information on the forms made public by Rowley.

She said the UNC will ensure there are consequences if any law is breached, even if it means going all the way to the Privy Council.