Rowley Backs Mitchell in Pantrinbago Rental

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By Prior Beharry

PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley is standing behind his Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture Randall Mitchell in the Pantribgao rental matter.

Mitchell is a co-director in the company that owns the building being rented by Pantrinbago of which he is line minister.

Asked about the issue first reported by AZP News at the Post-Cabinet press conference on Wednesday, Dr Rowley said he was not aware it was “anything out of the ordinary.”

He said, “My understanding is that there’s a building somewhere where the minister has some interest and Pantrinago wanted to use a building and they did so knowing that the minister had some interest in the ownership.

“I don’t know that because the minister is part owner of a building and if the building is, what is required and what’s the processes are transparent I don’t know the time or have any problem with.”

And asked if Mitchell would get an income based on his ownership of the building, Dr Rowley said, “That is possible if you… suppose somebody own the bus company and they were invited to be a candidate on the win. What would they do? All that is transparency after that. And he is not the one going out there to put Pantribago in his building. The building is on the market. It is legitimately owned and understand something, the minister, if he earns money from it and if he owns it, what does the law asks for, it asks for a declaration to the Integrity Commission. It doesn’t asked to be discriminated against because you serve the public.”

Told that when Mitchell acquired the building, he did not report it that year to the Integrity Commission, Dr Rowley replied, “I don’t have those details and therefore I can’t comment on that, I don’t know anything about any ministers’ submission to the Integrity Commission, that’s a matter of law between the individual and the commission. I’m saying, what the law requires in terms of earning or benefiting. “If you do benefit from anything like that or own anything like that, what the law requires and what the country expects is that you will declare it and once it is transparent the operations…

“You see there are some people who believe that once you mention PNM about somebody that (person) mustn’t, get a job. I didn’t subscribe to that and you know why because we don’t think so. There are people in this government who served in another government. One of the biggest disasters in this government, fortunately the only one is by hiring somebody who was a UNC minister.

“But we don’t discriminate against people because they have been associated with a political party and that is not how it should be and trying to make an issue of the fact that they in the building, that they renting and the minister have an interest in it, well interesting story, but what really is the problem.

“The minister didn’t use his influence to get Pantribago in the building as far as I’m aware from the story that’s in the public domain and from what I’ve seen. If the minister used influence to get them in there… that will be a breach of the Integrity in Public Life Act because it says that you should not use your office in particular way. See that wasn’t done so what’s the problem?”

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