Leader of the Opposition, Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC MP. (Image courtesy Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago)

Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad Bissessar SC MP, has renewed her call for a repeal of the current Procurement Act, and for Parliament to put in place more comprehensive legislation, as well as for a probe into the current arrangements being made with the Chinese Government for COVID-19 vaccines.

She issued the call following comments made by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley during the latest edition of his “Conversations with the Prime Minister”, which aired on national television, last night.

The Opposition Leader was scathing in her comments on the broadcast, stating the PM is ultimately to blame for the current vaccine crisis.

The full text of the Opposition Leader’s statement, follows…

Kamla – Rowley has confessed he made a mess of the COVID19 vaccine acquisition

Last night Keith Rowley admitted to the nation that our Covid 19 vaccination rollout is in shambles. During his choreographed political platform stunt masquerading as a “conversation” Rowley sought to blame everyone but himself for the crisis we are in concerning his failure to acquire Covid-19 Vaccine supplies.

Incredibly, Rowley claimed to not know about India’s Vaccine Maitri program, or how our neighbouring CARICOM states came to receive generous donations of vaccines from India.  India’s Covid-19 vaccines were never a secret. Prime Minister Modi discussed how India could help the world via its vaccine program during his address at the 75th meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in 2020.  Perhaps Rowley has forgotten that he also addressed the 75th United Nations General Assembly meeting.

At one point Rowley even degraded our neighbours such as Barbados implying, they had “gone begging” for vaccines. Rowley failed to see the irony that the only vaccines our own citizens have taken so far have been those generously donated by Barbados.

After touting the government’s secretive vaccination policy for months, Rowley now admits his reliance on Covax was a grave mistake as it will not supply us with anywhere near the number of vaccines we need.

Rowley has also said that we cannot source any supplies from the open market. It is now entirely conceivable that Trinidad and Tobago will not be able to vaccinate our citizens to acceptable levels until next year. This means while countries across the globe, including our CARICOM neighbours, are working to reopen their economies our nation will be isolated from the rest of the world.

T&T is now facing a crisis of huge proportions all thanks to Rowley’s incompetent and shambolic government.

Curiously, while Rowley states that the government could not make deals with the multitude of vaccine manufacturers globally, it somehow has already signed a non-disclosure agreement with Sinopharm for the procurement of their vaccine.

Rowley’s entire defence for failing to secure vaccines from suppliers is stating that he will not sign off on a vaccine that does not have WHO approval. Yet Sinopharm’s own vaccine has no such approval yet.

Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago have a right to know the details of any vaccine arrangement being made using taxpayer dollars. Why is there a need for secrecy with this procurement of vaccines from China? This is precisely the reason I am calling for a repeal of the gutted PNM-Procurement Amendment Act.

For the past five years, this PNM government has destroyed the livelihoods of thousands of citizens. Now with their gross negligence, they are playing recklessly with the lives of all the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP

Opposition Leader of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago