Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley says there is no need to investigate the award of two airport contracts, worth $83 million, which were approved last month by Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner.
Rowley said so at the first bi-monthly news conference at his office on Charles Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.He said appropriate action should be taken. When asked what action should be taken, Rowley said: "The Prime Minister has the responsibility for her Cabinet and it was up to her to determine how many times she would make excuses for them."
Warner has admitted to signing off on the contracts without a board in place at the Airports Authority of T&T.Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has ordered an investigation and review of the contracts.
Warner said on Sunday he had no problems with the contracts being retendered.He said he signed the contracts, despite no board being in place at the AATT because of the emergency nature of the projects.
The projects involved the upgrading of lighting at the Piarco and Crown Point airports.But Rowley said yesterday he rejected Warner's claim outright. He insisted the work which was required was not "extreme emergency."Rowley said the law provided for ministerial action only in cases of extreme emergency.
He said the situation at the airports cannot be considered to be an extreme emergency.
He added: "Airport lighting system don't just shut down. The work that is needed was normal maintenance and upgrade."That cannot be deemed to be an emergency under any stretch of the imagination. What is there is working and will continue to work for quite sometime. That is not an emergency."
Rowley also responding to claims by former Civil Aviation director general at the AATT, Ramesh Lutchmedial, who told Jyoti Communications in Canada that Warner was right to act in the manner in which he did because the work was considered to be an emergency.
"They are simply trying to facilitate the foolishness. I could guarantee you that there is no situation where the airports lights are about to shut down tomorrow morning," Rowley said.Rowley, who was accompanied by Chief Whip Marlene Mc Donald and Arouca/Maloney MP Alicia Hospedales, said what was required was "appropriate action" by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar against Warner.
"We consider that to be an aberration which now falls to the Prime Minister not to have an investigation into but to take the appropriate position on,"he added.Rowley said if Warner's position that he had done nothing wrong was to be accepted, then how did one explain the PM's call for it to be reviewed.
Rowley said Warner may be as powerful as he was in his house, in Fifa and on the streets of T&T but as minister he was not above the laws of the land."We find his behaviour obnoxious and we find the Prime Minister tardy in reining in a minister who seems to think he is above the law," Rowley added.
Rowley described Warner's action as "a blatant case of ministerial overreach."Rowley said he was "not impressed" by the choice of board members announced by Persad-Bissessar last week. The term of the former AATT board ended in June 2010. No new AATT board has as yet been announced. See Page A5