Government officials: PM is well, busy

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley – Photo courtesy the Office of the Prime Minister

WHILE he has not been seen or heard in public so far for the year, the Prime Minister is in good health and hard at work. This was the word from senior government and PNM party officials on Monday.

A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Dr Rowley is well and chaired last week’s Cabinet meeting as usual. While unable to say exactly what Rowley’s schedule was, another government official asked, “When is the Prime Minister not at work?”

Rowley caught covid19 last April while in Tobago and was quarantined at the Prime Minister’s official residence at Blenheim, until he recovered.

Rowley’s last public engagement was at a news conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s on December 18. On that day, he spoke about plans for public-sector covid19 safe zones. Rowley also said public-sector workers who choose not to get vaccinated for non-medical reasons by mid-January will be furloughed.

On December 24, Rowley outlined some of his Christmas and New Year’s plans.

“I am having a semi-isolated Christmas entirely with my family who are here in Trinidad. I also do that on Boxing Day.”

On December 27, he said he would be in Tobago for a few days “into and around the New Year.” Rowley, who is from Mason Hall, often spends time at his family’s sheep farm in Tobago.

“I hope to get into the bush and out into the open there as I get the best of both worlds while I keep my distance as much as the circumstances demand.”

Neither government nor PNM officials could say definitively whether Rowley was still in Tobago or not. A PNM official said, “This I am unsure about.” A second added that Rowley is abreast of party matters.

The PNM closed nominations on Monday for candidates for the February 7 by-election and is expected to begin screening later this week.

Rowley, as PNM political leader, chairs the screening committee. Last week, PNM general secretary Foster Cummings said the party will determine whether the screening of nominees will be done virtually or in some in-person format, following covid19 protocols.

Media reports on Monday said Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales has tested positive for covid19.