The fact that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley doesn’t want international observers for the local government election tells the Opposition that the PNM “as always will play dirty”, Chaguanas MP Dinesh Rambally claimed yesterday.
Pointing out one of the ways that the UNC is different from the PNM, he claimed: “Their saying it takes cash to care as an excuse to impose property tax shows PNM’s way of caring for you is to tax you more. “
Rambally, who spoke at a UNC media briefing at the Office of the Opposition Leader in Port-of-Spain, said citizens have an opportunity in the upcoming election to stand their ground against the Government.
“This regime, which has taken the people for granted, neglected and ignored them for too long. This election is about standing up against executive overreach and Prime Minister Rowley’s bullying tactics,” he said.
He claimed the UNC forced Rowley’s hand to call the election following a battle in which the Privy Council ruled against the extension of the Local Government term.
“We must remain alert to this Government’s every action as the PNM has a history of infringing peoples’ rights,” Rambally said.
“Perhaps the most anti-democratic act of Dr Rowley yet is his failure to accede to international observers. It is unfortunate that Prime Minister Dr Rowley pretends to misunderstand this request by the Opposition.
“Democracy is more than the feeling of privacy in the voting booths. Democracy is the duty of the Prime Minister to properly consider and comply with a request for election observers.
“It is not that Dr Rowley doesn’t know this. He asked for and got international observers in 2015 so he knows how this works. The fact that he does not want observers now tells us that the PNM, as always, will play dirty,” Rambally alleged
He said calling for election observers doesn’t equate to an attack on the Election and Boundaries Commission since election observation “doesn’t intervene in the process or mitigate election-day cheating,” but ensures electoral integrity, helps restore trust in democracy, and grants the election legitimacy.
“International investors look to invest in countries with stable political and electoral systems. The Prime Minister must consider what message he is sending to potential international investors when the official Opposition has asked for international observers and the PNM administration is denying it. “
“He’s telling the world that Trinidad and Tobago is fast becoming a totalitarian state and doesn’t promote any perception of free and fair elections,” he said.
Rambally and Naparima MP Rodney Charles said the People’s Partnership Government created 50,000 jobs and did not introduce any new taxes, unlike the PNM with the property tax.
“While Dr Rowley insists property taxes won’t affect citizens, the truth is that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He claims property taxes will only cost as much as a dinner mint, which costs $3. We all know two dinner mints will cost a maximum of 50 cents each. That’s the roadside price, not the price on Rowley’s golf course. This simply proves that Prime Minister Dr Rowley is out of touch with reality,” Rambally added.
Urging citizens to consider national issues like crime and not fall for “the PNM’s stuck record titled local government reform” he said: “They ignored all the roads for the past years, allowed them to fall into a state of disrepair, and as a government coming to say that local government reform will fix everything?”
“Similarly the PNM did nothing during successive dry seasons and now blame the rainy season for their incompetence. Climate change isn’t the problem - it’s too much PNM incompetence.”