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Rowley's Value- for- Money Posturing
Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2005

By Stephen Kangal

One day before the public notice appeared in the local printed media announcing the commencement of the Public Inquiry into, inter alia, allegations that materials were misappropriated from the Scarborough Hospital Project and illegally used in Rowley's Landdate Housing Development, Minister Rowley embarked on his I 95FM public relations posturing to project himself as the champion arbiter/ judge/ exponent of value- for- money spending by Government.

If there is any MP who dotes on and commandeers media publicity to promote himself it is Rowley. He telegraphs that media coverage is his exclusive entitlement. No one else, including the Independent Senators must dare to trespass on his preserve.

How can the Scarborough Hospital Project be delivered on time, avoid astronomical cost overruns and be structurally well built (value for money health infrastructure) when a prima facie case has been established that Minister Rowley was party to misappropriating and diverting Scarborough Hospital property to benefit his personal Landdate housing scheme being constructed in Tobago.

His riposte for getting even with PM Manning for appointing the Landdate Inquiry is to attack the performance of the wife of the PM who is Minister of Education. Which Minister of the Manning Administration, including the Minister of Housing can lay claim to delivering value for money to the taxpayers of this country and therefore can register a legitimate case for increases in salary and allowances?

Forget Rowley's ole talk about value for money. That is a diversionary Tobago red flying fish. It is geared to sanitise his flagging image ahead of Landdate. He is also re-staking his claim for the office of Prime Minister, trying to delude the electorate that he is exclusively the value for money prime ministerial material. He also wants to pre-empt/ influence the findings of the Landdate Inquiry. He is on a political mission impossible that mainland Trinis can see through quite easily.

Do the taxpayers especially the rural-based get value for money when Rowley is building houses to voter pad in the marginals, ghettoising and creating havoc within established middle and upper class neighbourhoods such as Gordon Street- Santa Margarita, Green Street, San Fernando etc? He is building these State-funded houses exclusively in the PNM-supported, Afro-dominated East West Corridor and urban centres and alienating/disenfranchising/marginalising the rural heartland. He then calls it Housing For All.

Are the URP and CEPEP value for money? Is the THA a –value- for- money services provider? Is not the NHA a financial disaster under Rowley's watch. It is now being replaced by the Housing Development Corporation that will prove to be another costly institutional failure and façade for nepotism and political patronage.

Seventy per cent of taxpayers opposed the $3bn increase in the current budget because they did not get value for money from the $28bn budget.

Value- for- money is based on transparency, accountability, fairness and on on-time and effective delivery of services. That is the purpose of the appointment of the public watchdog Joint Select Committees of Parliament geared to scrutinize the operations of Ministries, Statutory Boards and public bodies. Minister Rowley's delinquency in flaunting his non- attendance of these JSC meetings is because there he no longer enjoys the captive audience of his desk-thumping parliamentary majority for him to deliver all shades of flippant nonsense.

Perhaps he does not approve of the Independent Senators presiding over these sessions and upstaging him. He does not like Senators to be Ministers either.

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