Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. File photo/Sureash Cholai
THE Prime Minister found himself on the receiving end of jokes by the United National Congress (UNC) platform on Monday night.
On Monday he had to make the embarrassing admission that his announcement on Sunday that this country was to receive funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was the result of an attempted scam.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar also chastised him for not doing due diligence and putting this country in an embarrassing position.
On Sunday, on his return from Guyana, at a news conference at Piarco Airport, Rowley announced that TT had had the luck to be identified for a “not insignificant share of some funding to be made available from the Bill Gates Foundation.”
He explained while he was in Guyana, the Caricom chairman communicated with him that the Office of the Secretary General of the UN wanted to reach him and other Caricom heads to advise them he had received a substantial grant from the foundation to be distributed in its ongoing poverty alleviation programme.
The communication aroused no suspicion, as this country had been the recipient of funding from the foundation twice before.
On Monday, Rowley tried to reconnect with the secretary general to receive the “gift” and realised he was just part of an international scam and the caller was trying to get money from him.
He issued a statement to explain the series of events which led to the announcement and then having to retract it. He said he is now satisfied there is no grant but a brazen attempt to scam countries through the use of impersonation and identity theft and the matter would be referred to the police and other relevant authorities.
Rowley’s release received attention while Persad-Bissessar was addressing supporters at the party’s Monday night forum, and garnered some snickers from the live audience.
“I can’t believe this. It was a fake call? I know this could not be true,” she said.
“So, from E-mailgate to Bill Gates, he did not do due diligence,” she said, referring to Rowley’s claim in Parliament while she was prime minister that she, former CoP Gary Griffith and others were involved in a criminal conspiracy. The matter was subsequently ruled to be false.
Persad-Bissessar said this Government’s lack of due diligence also reminds her of the visit of sanctioned vice president of Venezuela Delcy Rodriguez and a team, never identified, to meet with Rowley to discuss covid19 strategies.
“This is like when Delcy came. He did not know who came with her and he did not know who was in the room. You go into a prime minister’s office and nobody knows who these people are?
“We cannot believe a word they say. They are liars.
“I hope Bill Gates does not sue him now because he said TT was going to get dollars from Bill Gates. Now we are hearing that was just another scam.”