Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley addressing a political rally on January 20 in Roxborough. Image courtesy People’s National Movement (PNM).

The political leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM), Dr. Keith Rowley, says Tracy Davidson-Celestine—leader of the PNM’s Tobago Council—had left the country when the zipline project “was in its infancy.”

The whereabouts of $2.5 million worth of materials and equipment, paid for by the Tobago House of Assembly for the Main Ridge zipline project, has been a hot-button issue on the hustings since January 10th.

The Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) revealed details from a 2016 Auditor-General Management Report indicating that the department’s efforts to find the zipline project’s raw materials showed only some ropes in a warehouse.

The party also revealed details of the Executive Council Note that approved the project.  The note indicated that almost $4 million was spent on the project.  The PDP claimed spending included local and foreign trips by THA and foreign officials, trying to get the project off the ground.  Davidson-Celestine was the Tourism Secretary during the time of the report.

The PDP has threatened to send the information to the Offices of the Director of Public Prosecution, Commissioner of Police, and Auditor General.

Speaking at a campaign meeting in Roxborough on January 20th, five days before the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections, Prime Minister Dr. Rowley said Davidson-Celestine left the Assembly at the start of the project.

“April 2017, Tracy left the Assembly with that project…on the way. She never came back into Assembly business until she won the leadership of the PNM (January 2020), ” Rowley said.

Davidson-Celestine became this country’s ambassador to Costa Rica in 2017.

The PNM national leader said Tobagonians should reject the PDP’s explanation of the report as they are “lying and trying to confuse” Tobagonians.

He said he approved of the zipline project and instructed Davidson-Celestine to continue the project after the January 25 elections.  She is the party’s candidate for the Lambeau/Signal Hill seat.

The PM doubled down on his claim about the PDP’s being the UNC’s proxy in Tobago.

He said he knows of the relationship because he heads this country’s National Security Council and is privy to the information.

He asked why the PDP was not concerned about other auditor general’s reports, especially those during the People’s Partnership term in office.

He read from the 2012 report.

“Ministry of Food Production, page 35.  $1.9 million between June 30 and… Cabinet approval was not found for $2 million in that ministry.”

“Ministry of Local Government, page 39.  Building leased not occupied.  $26 million of liability of which they’re paying $9 million in each year.”

“The PDP and their friends… should be concerned about that,” the PM said.