OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is defending one of her deputy political leaders, David Lee, who is being investigated by police.
They are seeking to establish whether his tax and duty exemption from his purchase of a luxury vehicle benefited someone else.
Challenging the police to charge Lee if they had evidence, Persad-Bissessar asserted that he had done nothing illegal. She said it was an attempt to “nasty people’s names” with an old matter that had no substance.
She warned the United National Congress (UNC) had enough good lawyers to successfully defend him.
At the UNC virtual meeting on Monday night, Persad-Bissessar said the matter is being put on the national agenda to change the narrative from the “PNM pandemic of hopelessness” the country is facing.
Lee, the MP for Pointe-a-Pierre, was questioned last Monday by the police Financial Investigation Branch (FIB) in connection with the purchase of a Mercedes-Benz valued at $2.3 million which attracted a $1.4 million tax exemption.
It is being alleged that Lee was not using the vehicle and a party financier may have benefited.
Reminding her live and virtual audience the matter of whether he bought the vehicle for someone else was raised years ago, Persad-Bissessar charged, “They are using this as a distraction to change the narrative.”
She raised questions of her own, about the transfer of a vehicle between former AG Faris Al-Rawi and Roger Kawalsingh, documents relating to which are not lodged at the licensing office, or the alleged purchase of a Maybach by another minister for a contractor.
On the same platform, MP Dinesh Rambally disparaged the Government’s decision to ban the export of scrap iron and copper for the next six months as an anti-crime measure.
“How on earth is throwing the honest and hardworking scrap iron dealers on the breadline going to stop thieves? Shutting down the industry for six months will only fuel the thieves. But this is the dotish logic of the Rowley-led PNM.”
He said he was suspicious there was an agenda, and put everyone on alert for the setting up of sub-committees for the granting of licences for scrap iron dealers among friends, family and financiers of the PNM.
“So while the country drowning in bloodshed and more people now on the breadline, the Rowley-led Cabinet will once again be looking out for their friends, family and financiers. While scrap-iron dealers suffering, the PNM will be eating a food.”
On the issue of fireworks, Rambally said the consultation held last Friday was a mockery of fair and proper consultation according to law.
“It is trite law, a matter of common sense, that where a public authority embarks on consultation, it should do so properly. Participants were denied open and frank dialogue with the AG’s representatives.
“Feedback only took the form of typed questions on a Facebook chat, and even then, they seemed to be somewhat selectively represented by the host.”
He said regulation of fireworks is a matter for which the population has been clamouring.
“Unregulated use has incensed many in our society, to such an extent that there is a call for an outright ban. Animal-rights activists have expressed heartfelt and genuine concern over the cruel impact of fireworks on animals.
“I call upon the AG to immediately correct the curtailed manner in which he has conducted these consultations. Get the facts and bring legislation accordingly.”