Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley address supporters during the party’s meeting in Roxborough, Tobago on Wednesday. In the background is Lambeau/Signal Hill candidate Tracy Davidson-Celestine.

The political leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM) Dr Keith Rowley told Tracy Davidson-Celestine he approves of the Main Ridge Forest zipline project and wants her to continue it, after the January 25 Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections.

That is if the party wins the elections and she becomes Chief Secretary.

Davidson-Celestine is the party’s Lambeau/Signal Hill candidate.

The project became a hot issue on the campaign trail after the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) revealed details about it on January 10 at their Gardenside, Scarborough, car park meeting.

One of the PDP’s deputies, Farley Augustine, said the Auditor General’s 2016 management letter on the issue, revealed that only rope was discovered when the department looked for the $2.5 million material and equipment spent by the Assembly, on the zipline.

Augustine also said the Executive Council note approving the zipline showed it was budgeted for $4 million. He claimed he had receipts to show, $3.5 million was already spent.

The PDP deputy threatened to send the new information to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Commissioner of Police, and Auditor general.

During the spend, Davidson-Celestine was the Tourism Secretary.

Making his first public appearance since undergoing an angioplasty procedure, Prime Minister Dr Rowley told supporters in Roxborough that the public should ignore the PDP’s statements because they are “lying and trying to confuse you.”

He said he wants the project to continue.

“Today I staunchly approve the idea that the THA should build a zipline so locals and foreigners could ride that zipline and experience the rainforest as they can nowhere else in the world.”

He added, “Tonight I want to tell Tracy Davidson, one of the first things you do when you become Chief Secretary is to resurrect that project and get it done.”

He said she left the Assembly soon after the project started.

“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.

He said Tobagonians should not allow the PDP to derail the project like they did with the Sandals Resort International project.

In January 2019, the resort chain pulled out of the proposed Tobago 700-1000- room project citing public criticism.

PDP and UNC relationship

Dr Rowley again doubled down on his claim of a close relationship between the PDP and UNC. The PDP is “the proxy of the UNC,” he said. It’s a claim he has made repeatedly.

He said as the head of this country’s National Security Council, he has information available only to him.

He asked why the PDP was not concerned about other auditor general’s reports, especially those under the People’s Partnership government from 2010-2015.

Reading from a 2012 auditor general report, he revealed some information.

“Ministry of Food Production page 35, $1.9 million between June 30 and something…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 paying $9 million in each year.

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