“Come file a motion in me!”
That was the challenge set out by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley who dismissed the motion of no confidence piloted by the Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar in his Minister of National Security, Stuart Young.
Rowley said that as head of the Cabinet he was accepting “full responsibility” for Young’s actions and directed the United National Congress (UNC) to switch their motion of no confidence from Young to him.
“Your motion is misdirected. I take responsibility for what the Ministry of National Security does and what this Government does. I take responsibility,” he said.
“The responsibility of what the National Security Ministry does, let me make it clear here today that unlike the UNC government, the minister does not act on his own,” he said.
The motion was based on the Young’s handling of the exemption process.
Rowley said that he came to Parliament out of curiosity as Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar promised quite a show and to “light up the Parliament”.
“I was interested but I can conclude right here and now that this motion as presented and the substance of it is tantamount to nothing more than a waste of valuable Parliament time,” he said.
Rowley said that he predicted that the motion that was already “incompetently” presented by Persad-Bissessar would be filled with repetition and would be laced with standing orders.
Rowley seemed to be correct in that score, as there were countless interjections by the Government that the Opposition had violated various standing orders during the course of the debate.
“Because this motion is incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial,” he said.
Rowley said that in trying to protect the country from the pandemic, the Government had to take hard tactics.
“They were very inconveniencing but such was the medicine we had to take,” he said.
Rowley said he was not boasting but simply pointing out the good job that his Government and Young did to protect the country.
“We in T&T are in a much better place than many other national populations,” he said.
He said that the country was in that good place in part because the Government ignored the advice from the Opposition.
Though the Opposition tried to interject by citing standing orders, they were all overruled.
“In this Government, the ministers don’t do as they please. There is management of this Cabinet,” he said.
Rowley said that Young has his “full confidence” and does not act on his own accord.
“From day one when we responded to the virus, the Opposition had taken issue,” he said.
Rowley said that if the Government has taken the Opposition’s advice they would not have shut down the borders or the rum shops and would have advised people to come out in the sunlight, build a dome over the country and chew puncheon and lime.
Even though there was an interjection by the Opposition at this time, the Speaker of the House Bridgid Annisette-George dismissed the calls and allowed the Prime Minister to continue.—Renuka Singh