Manning: Why I Fired Rowley
April 25, 2008
News Update Below: April 26, 2008
At yesterday's post-cabinet news conference, Prime Minister Patrick Manning appeared alone to explain why he fired Rowley. Manning said that he fired Dr. Keith Rowley because of unacceptable 'hooligan behaviour' at a meeting of the Finance and General Purposes Committee of cabinet, and not because of his corruption allegation.
Dr. Keith Rowley and PM Patrick Manning
Rowley stated that he was fired because he raised concerns about a lack of cabinet supervision over UDeCOTT's mega billion dollar projects.
Manning said that Rowley's alleged temper tantrum fiasco began two weeks ago at a meeting of the Finance and General Purposes Committee of cabinet where UDeCOTT's chairman Calder Hart, proposed a sixty room hotel to be part of the US $100 million Academy of the Performing Arts. Dr. Rowley objected to this proposal, as he himself has admitted, but the Prime Minister alleges that Rowley did so in an unacceptable manner saying that it was worse than opposition leader Basdeo Panday's behaviour in parliament during the laptop controversy. Manning said that he was absent from that meeting and was told of it when he returned. He said that he raised the matter at last week's cabinet meeting and promised to investigate the complaints. He then met with Rowley yesterday to tell him about the accusations which Rowley strongly denied. Manning said he then did a random poll with five out of the eight cabinet ministers who were present at the meeting, and four felt Rowley was out of line. Manning said that he would not reveal the names of the ministers who felt that Rowley's conduct was unacceptable to protect them. Manning said that he gave Rowley the option to resign and when he refused, he fired him.
Manning denies that he was being vindictive towards Rowley given their history of rivalry over leadership of the PNM.
The Prime Minister further rejected Rowley's claim of questionable financial dealings at UDeCOTT and said that the state-owned company is being run quite efficiently. Manning said that cabinet had knowledge of this hotel since last year. He proceeded to show a plan and point out the area on it for the hotel of sixty rooms. Manning said the hotel was not put in surreptitiously by anybody; it was always part of the design. Manning further said that they had articulated to the public at some time that the Academy of the Performing Arts in Port of Spain had comprised a sixty room hotel.
TV6 later showed an official document that showed the hotel was not part of the plan for the Academy of the Performing Arts. Former NAR government minister Eden Shand showed documents that contradicted what Manning said. Shand said, "Last night I heard the news about a sixty room hotel, and I know the process in this country through which you can do that. The process was town and country planning approval; you can check with them if you have that, and certificate of environmental clearance. I went this morning to see whether in fact the sixty room hotel was part of the clearance. It is not."
TV6 once again showed an original plan where the design did not show plans for a hotel. The TV6 reporter asked Mr. Shand if a redesign of the center could have been made at a later time and could have included the hotel and, therefore, could have been an oversight.
Mr. Shand said there were no new applications on record that he saw for clearance for a new design. Shand said that the centre is being constructed illegally.
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Manning Fires Rowley
Dr. Keith Rowley is no longer the Trade and Industry Minister. He was fired by Prime Minister Patrick Manning who, according to reports, felt that he was an obstructionist. Dr. Lenny Saith has been appointed to lead the Trade and Industry Ministry.
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Rowley behaved worse than Panday in Parliament, Manning continues. The public cannot know that, for the simple reason that Panday was shouting at the Speaker, in full public view and for the nation to hear, whereas Rowley was speaking, however passionately, to a few colleagues behind closed doors. How can you sensibly compare the two scenarios? In any case, do you normally fire someone for making frank remarks to colleagues in private? Or is it that Manning thought he saw a good opportunity to rid himself at last of the turbulent Tobagonian?
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