UNC boycotts JSC hearing on highway project

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Princes Town MP Barry Padarath – File photo

THE Opposition UNC kept its promise to boycott hearings of the Parliament’s Land and Physical Infrastructure Joint Select Committee (JSC) on the Point Fortin Highway Extension Project.

The JSC held its first hearing on this matter on March 20 at the Red House.

This hearing saw committee members asking officials from the National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco) and the Works and Transport Ministry about the project.

The committee’s opposition representatives – Princes Town MP Barry Padarath and Opposition Senator Anil Roberts – did not attend.

The JSC is chaired by Independent Senator Deoroop Teemal.

Its other members are government MPs Kennedy Richards, Symon de Nobriga and Lisa Morris-Julian and senators Muhammad Yunus Ibrahim and Renuka Sagramsingh-Sooklal.

Shortly after the Prime Minister made a statement in the House of Representatives last November, calling for this JSC to examine the project, the UNC decided it would not participate in the committee’s hearing on that matter. In a statement at that time, the UNC claimed the JSC’s enquiry could run afoul of Parliament’s sub-judice rules.

The opposition also recalled that government established a commission of enquiry (CoE) on this matter.

Last November, Padarath claimed that since the JSC has been meeting on this topic, the government members have demonstrated a clear agenda to personalise attacks.

He also claimed the Government would use the matter as an election-campaign issue.

The next general election is constitutionally due in 2025.

On November 1, Dr Rowley said the public needed answers about what happened with that project under the UNC-led People’s Partnership (PP) from 2010-2015.

“The public, through its representatives in this House, must seek and obtain answers from all persons involved in or associated with this scandal.

“This is even more necessary since, in recent times, attempts have been made to give opportunity to person/s to put misinformation on the parliamentary record.”