Prime Minister Patrick Manning is insisting he fired Dr Keith Rowley from the Trade and Industry Ministry because of his behaviour and not because of concerns raised by the Diego Martin West MP over the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott). Manning said that in response to a claim by Opposition MP Ramesh Maharaj, who had said Rowley and former Arouca South MP Camille Robinson-Regis (now High Commissioner to Canada) were fired because of their criticisms of Udecott. These developments took place during yesterday's House of Representatives debate on a bill to validate the work of the Uff Commission of Enquiry. Rowley has maintained he was fired because of his call for Cabinet oversight of the State-owned Udecott.
During the debate, there was much criticism of Udecott by Opposition MPs Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Maharaj. Manning said he was "determined to stay out of a lot of the ole talk that is going on in this matter." He added: "If there is a Commission of Enquiry, the attitude of the Government is to let the commission do its work and when the commission makes its findings, the Government will take whatever action it considers appropriate. That is the position of the Government." Manning did not end there, saying he wanted to "correct the mischief of the member for Tabaquite and that is that the Government was taking a particular position, vis-a-vis Udecott.
"What the Government was saying was that on the basis of no evidence at all, individuals in this Parliament were calling for this enquiry when there was no basis for it," Manning said. He said once there was basis for the commission the Government would consider it. Manning said when that happened the Government agreed to the establishment of the enquiry. He stressed: "The Government has been consistent on this matter." Manning then turned his attention to the sacking of Rowley in 2007. "It is behaviour. People must learn how to behave. That's the problem," said Manning.