Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Photo/TT Parliament
By Sue-Ann Wayow
NATIONAL Security Minister Stuart Young should resign immediately for lying in Parliament and to the people of Trinidad and Tobago about the presence of engineers who were conducting works on national security vessels in the country.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said the Opposition will be taking Young to the Privileges Committee on Friday concerning conflicting statements that were reported.
Speaking at her final campaign meeting for political leader of the United National Congress (UNC) on Thursday night, Persad-Bissessar said, “He must resign for lying to Parliament on a matter of national security because we have to have our borders closed, patrolled. This is where all the illegal people are coming in.”
Last Friday, in Parliament, in answering a motion brought by UNC Member of Parliament for Barataria/San Juan Saddam Hosein, Young said engineers from Dutch company Damen Shipyard were reluctant to come to Trinidad and Tobago due to Covid-19 and promised to meet with the Netherlands ambassador this week to discuss the situation.
However, a statement to the Express newspapers from Netherlands Ambassador Raphaël Varga van Kibéd stated that since October, an engineer was in Trinidad to work on the Coast Guard vessels, bought by the previous administration to control the borders, and that another engineer arrived in November to replace the previous one.
Persad-Bissessar asked, “How many people can come into this country without an exemption? Who signs the exemption? The only person responsible to granting exemptions to people to enter our borders is the line minister, Stuart Young. Is he signing exemptions and he does not know who these people are?”
Addressing Young directly she said, “Stuart Young, are you signing the exemptions or do you have a clone or robot that is signing the exemptions? That is your responsibility.”
She added, “I am very fearful about more than one thing but what is going on with these exemptions? Who is signing them if the minister is not signing them? Does he read it before he signs it? Is there anything else that he signs without reading? He ought to have known these engineers came because he would have had to approve them.”
In a statement to the Express on Friday, Young said he did not mislead the Parliament.
He admitted to knowing of two engineers coming into the country after the scheduled maintenance times and stated, “… I am also aware that their delayed arrivals and presence was without the necessary required parts required to be provided.”
And as Government gets ready to debate the Procurement Bill in Parliament on Friday, Persad-Bissessar is adamant that it will receive no support from the Opposition in its present form.
“Every right thinking citizen in this country should call out and condemn the government for what they are trying to do with this piece of law.”
The issue of procurement legislation was one spoken about throughout the UNC virtual meetings with references made to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and Minister of National Security Stuart Young as the two main reasons why proper procurement legislation was needed.
Reading from sections of the law that was initially tabled by the People’s Partnership government, Persad-Bissessar said, “Tomorrow we go to Parliament, we go bold, we go brave, we go united and strong and we will not support it. We cannot support this law in all good conscience.”
Persad-Bissessar had said on several occasions that the Opposition will not support the Government in Parliament if the procurement legislation was not made effective.
Stating that Government proposed to amend Section 7 of the Act, Persad-Bissessar said, “They want to insert the following, ‘This act shall not apply to the following services provided to public bodies or State controlled enterprises (a) legal services, (b) financial services, (c) accounting and auditing services, (d) medical services, (e) such other service as the minister by order may make resolve, a resolution, a negative resolution.’
“You mean when we finish this on Friday, that man could sit down anytime a contract coming up in the cabinet and it concerns a minister, friend family and so on that he has to recuse himself, he just make an order, delete that service so the act will not apply. Why?”