Head of Blue Waters, Dominic Hadeed yesterday said that the Opposition was simply being “mischievous” by singling out him and his company after it was revealed that he was able to secure exemptions for 39 non-nationals to enter the country.
In an interview with Guardian Media yesterday, Hadeed said he was not worried about the unwanted attention, but he was disappointed.
“I won’t say worried, but I am more disappointed. We know business has to continue, I know the Ministers had said early o’clock that exceptions would be made for oil and gas and for manufacturing. That’s the lifeblood of the country and I think the Opposition knows this,” he said.
“They are just being a little bit mischievous on their part but it just happened to be my company name that got called this time, it could be anybody,” he said.
The men, according to information in the public domain and independently confirmed by Guardian Media would be staying at Kapok Hotel and Regent Star for the first seven days and some would them be put up at Hilton and Hyatt.
Several people who have paid to stay at Kapok told Guardian Media that it runs to more than $8,000 per person for a week of quarantine.
Hadeed said that it was not a cheap exercise.
“Bringing in these people like this is very expensive. You have to charter planes, you have to pay them to be in quarantine for two weeks, so I don’t think anybody today doing it unless they absolutely have to do it because it is very expensive,” he said.
The group, Hadeed said was here to work on his production and assembly line and this was on train some 10 months ago.
“This is actually a big filling line, it is one of our main filling lines that’s over 10 years old and had to be changed. The new line was ordered just prior to Covid (19),” he said.
“Once Covid had come and there was a shutdown we had reached out to the Ministry (of National Security) and said look, the train is already running, this equipment is ordered, we cannot back out now,” he said.
Hadeed said the ministry told him that while he had given them enough notice it was too early to do anything about exemptions and once everything was in order he should re-apply.
“They told us what we had to do and we basically followed it. This is something that was known about a year ago and was being planned and prepared for, so it’s a little of a surprise to me now that it would cause such a fuss,” he said.
Hadeed said he could not put in an application ten months in advance for the workmen.
“You have to have hotels and flights, so this was a full coordination. There is a difference between when we put in the application and when they were first informed,” he said.
Hadeed insists that there was no jumping the exemption line or that he received any privileges because of his business standing.
Persad-Bissessar – “Evil Stuart Young”
Meanwhile Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday issued a media release saying that Minister Young was “discriminating” in who he gave exemptions.
She also thanked Government MP Foster Cummings for “standing up to evil Stuart Young” regarding the exemption policy, as it was revealed Cummings expressed concern that nationals were being rendered stateless.
She said the revelation that the 39 non-nationals were granted exemptions was “startling” especially as back in March Young said that non-national exemptions would happen only in extreme circumstances.
She said that the whole situation reeks of discrimination.
“Perhaps Minister Young believes a bottling water machine is more extreme than the thousands of nationals who remain locked out abroad going on 313 days now,” she said.
“Does Stuart Young not realize that many of the thousands of our nationals stranded abroad are either business owners or employees of local businesses?” she asked.
Persad-Bissessar said businesses “close” to the PNM were being given preferential treatment while others were allowed to die.
“If this Government were serious about keeping our sinking economy afloat, they would realize that Stuart Young’s failed exemption process needs to be reformed urgently and that Young himself needs to be fired for his incompetence,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said that if Young could “expedite entry exemptions for the rich and the powerful, I demand he does the same for the thousands of our fellow ordinary citizens currently stranded abroad and in desperate need of help.”