MP Haynes Alleyne responds to Kamla: I requested absence from House

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

MP for Tabaquite Anita Haynes Alleyne. – File photo

TABAQUITE MP Anita Haynes Alleyne said in a statement on April 29 she had sought a leave of absence from April 26’s sitting of the House of Representatives, and cannot be blamed for being away from a vote on a government motion to extend the time for the Auditor General to examine the public accounts.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert sought the extension – successfully – as he said the revenue figure submitted to Auditor General Jaiwantie Ramdass was mistakenly understated by $2.6 billion, so she would need more time to incorporate the updated data into her report.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar on April 28 at the UNC 35th anniversary celebrations had criticised the absence from the House of five UNC MPs, including Hayne Alleyne.

This row comes after five UNC MPs called on the party to hold its internal elections for a new national executive before the general election due next year.

The initial call by Mayaro MP Rushton Paray has been supported by Haynes Alleyne, Naparima MP Rodney Charles, Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally and Cumuto/Manzanilla MP Dr Rai Ragbir.

Persad-Bissessar in reply has simply said UNC elections would be held when constitutionally due but did not give a time frame, while many UNC constituency groups issued statements of support for her leadership.

Haynes Alleyne, in reply to Persad-Bissessar’s latest statement, said she was now in the unenviable space of having to contradict the UNC leader’s remarks, in defence of her own personal integrity.

“On Friday, April 26 I sought the leave of the Parliament to absent myself from the sitting of Parliament on that day, for personal and private reasons.

“I am sure Mrs Persad-Bissessar needs no reminding that MPs, even the ones who believe that internal elections should be called when they are constitutionally due, are also human beings and from time to time and may have emergencies.

“It is unfortunate that Mrs Persad-Bissessar sought to presume some ill intention on my part and use my non-attendance at one parliamentary sitting to vilify me and call into question my work ethic.”

Haynes Alleyne said Parliament’s records would reflect her attendance at sittings and other parliamentary events.

She pointed out that the motion had required only a simple majority.

“It is entry-level politics to know that the ruling PNM government has a built-in majority in the Parliament due to their victory at the polls in 2020.

“Therefore the only way to ensure that UNC policies are upheld in the Parliament is for the UNC to win elections.”

She said if the Government thought it did not have the numbers to pass the motion on April 26, it would simply have adjourned the House and passed it on a different day, as it controls the most seats in the House.

“Mrs Persad-Bissessar is no doubt well aware of this fact.

“As we celebrate the 35th anniversary of the UNC, it is my sincerest hope that we can commit to advancing policy over propaganda and abstaining from unethical and unfounded personal attacks.”

Seemingly repeating her calls for the UNC to hold its internal elections, she said, “I stand resolutely behind the call to adhere to the democratic principles of the party and I hope that my colleagues could save the campaigning until after they have announced the election date.”