Dr Keith Rowley
THE Prime Minister slammed the UNC for consistently taking actions to undermine Trinidad and Tobago and Caricom, in and out of government. Dr Rowley made these statements during debate on the Caribbean Community Skilled Nationals (Amendment) Bill, 2022 in the House of Representatives.
He described an earlier contribution by Naparima MP Rodney Charles as a xenophobic presentation which sickened him to the core
Charles’s statements mirrored those made in 1961 by then Jamaica prime minister Sir Alexander Bustamante that led to the collapse of the West Indian Federation.
“It went into all the things that would happen to Jamaica, when all these (Caribbean) islanders descended upon Jamaica and Jamaica would have to find place and space for them. History has a way of repeating itself,”
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 appellate court and TT almost being left out of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).
“Uninformed, mischief-making does not a policy or vision make.”
Rowley recalled the UNC’s intial refusal to support the CCJ as TT’s final appeal court was because there was no judge of East Indian descent in its panel.
“Subsequently with the influxion of time and the appointment of an (East) Indian judge on the panel, I have seen no change in their position.”
Rowley asked UNC MPs, “When that happened, how come it did not temper your objection?”
He recalled that had the PNM not acted swiftly early in its tenure after the September 7, 2015 general election, statements by the UNC in opposition would have led to Jamaica telling its citizens to boycott TT-imported goods.
“That is a result of the behaviour of a handful of people who get office, assume responsibility, lead us astray and let us down.”
Rowley declared, “The UNC has been consistent in letting down the people of TT on matters of great importance.” He added that if Charles’ claims reflected the UNC’s position, “We may as well count Caricom goodbye.”
Recalling the recent memorandum of understanding signed between TT and Guyana on food security, Rowley slammed the UNC for claiming only Barbados is pursuing bilateral agriculture agreements with Guyana.
“It is not true. What you see Barbados doing, the same thing is being done by TT, by Antigua, and we (Caricom countries) are all working together towards the common goal of strengthening Caricom and protecting ourself.
“You can’t make bilaterals in Caricom. You are bound by treaty, and the treaty says you cannot favour outsiders and you have to give all your neighbours the same favour.”
Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne appealed to the UNC to have belief in the people of TT and support the principles of regional integration.
“Is that too much to ask? Time will tell.”