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PM signs Sandals MOU
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday sold himself as the country’s best salesman, saying he has been able to bring investors to our shores and sign deals that will generate revenue to take the country out of the economic downturn and recession.
Rowley threw out his sales pitch during his Budget contribution in Parliament, saying he recently sealed the deal with Sandals Resorts to build an 800-room in Tobago which, upon completion, will put T&T on the world map as a tourist destination.
“The communication between me and Sandals ownership is based on mutual respect. I speak to Sandals as the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. No underhand deal. Not on this side. We don’t do that,” Rowley said.
He said while he has been trying to sell T&T, the Opposition had not offered any alternative to take the country of economic crisis. Describing Sandals as a world brand, Rowley said according to the MOU, Sandals will manage the hotel and a board has been assigned to start preparatory work for the hotel, which would change Tobago and raise it standards.
He added that the agreement between BP and the National Gas Company (NGC), which he was instrumental in, saw a $10 billion investment for T&T.
“That is not the end of it. We are talking to some Italians now who have expressed an interest to come to T&T and get involved in some kind of industrial business.”
On the economy, Rowley said if Government doesn’t cut expenses the country would run into bankruptcy. He said in setting an example at the Office of the Prime Minister, he has reduced the bill for telephone, entertainment, overseas travel, promotions and printing and hosting of conferences by millions of dollars.
In 2011, Rowley said it costs taxpayers $387 million for these services, which went up to $495m the following year for a total $882m. In his last two years in office, Rowley said they reduced the figure from $882 to $521 million.
“A savings of $361 million. When we had money that is how we spent it. And to come here today to give us lessons as to how to spend money, no thank you!”
Touching on the gaming industry workers who protested outside of Parliament on Wednesday, Rowley said the casino owners have been operating illegally in T&T.
“A lot of people are engaging in illegal activity and telling me they go burn down the country. And you giving them gasoline.”
He said what we have were private members clubs that owners, many of them foreigners, have converted into casinos. In the coming days, Rowley said they would address the matter through the work of the Joint Select Committee.
“We are going to legalise casino gambling in this country,” the PM said, adding it was better to have a gaming commission that would regulate the gambling and take out the crime, criminality and foreign details from it.
“I am appealing from my colleagues on the other side to join with the Government to put this thing under proper legislative control so the workers could have proper and secured jobs in a legal setting.”