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Rowley: Housing projects casualties of PNM spat

Published: 
Sunday, March 18, 2018

It is not only your political opponents that can do bad things, your political friends can do bad things too, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley warned yesterday as he recalled a public spat with former prime minister Patrick Manning which he said left citizens deprived housing from the State.

Rowley made the statement as he delivered the feature address at the Housing Development Corporation's (HDC) distribution ceremony for the Vieux Fort housing Development in St James, yesterday.

"I've carried this burden for so long that I felt that today I can lay it down and I asked the Minister of Housing to make sure that I was invited to today's function so I am here at short notice because I really wanted to see this project completed and today for me is the beginning of the completion of a long journey," Rowley said.

Rowley said the "Vieux Fort" project represents "everything that is Trinidad and Tobago."

"A lot of potential, a lot of good and too much that is bad," he said.

Rowley said the project was started in 2006 when he was a housing minister in Manning's Cabinet.

Previous speakers at the function, housing minister Randall Mitchell and MP for the area Marlene McDonald also mentioned that in their addresses.

However, Mitchell said the project was stopped when the People's Partnership came into office in 2010.

This was not so Rowley explained.

"Permit me to get personal on this, I heard my colleague talk about our political opponents. It is not only your political opponents that can do bad things, your political friends can do bad things too. This project wasn't stopped by our political opponents, it fell prey to our own politics in the PNM (People's National movement)", Rowley said.

Rowley replaced Manning as the PNM's political leader in 2010.

Mitchell is now the MP for the San Fernando East seat that Manning held for over 30 years,

"You may recall one day in the Parliament our prime minister got up and mentioned that $10 million was missing from the HDC and the minister had to account for it, the minister being me because the other minister had told the then prime minister that $10 million was missing that resulted in a commission of enquiry. Y'all forget that? I can never forget that," Rowley said.

"And in search of that $10 million all these projects became casualties of that development and then soon after we lost the election and worse was to come," he said.

Manning questioned Rowley about what he said was $10 million missing from the Cleaver Heights Housing Project during the budget debate in the Parliament in October 2008.

Rowley had been fired from Manning's Cabinet in April that year.

Manning died on July 2 2016.

Rowley said the when the People's Partnership won the general election in 2010 they had five years of record budgets but never thought of completing the housing projects.

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