10th October 2016
The Opposition Leader was deliberately misleading the population when she made her wild and unsubstantiated allegations that the Government proposes to spend half a million dollars to build a house for the Prime Minister in Tobago. This, during a non-response to the National Budget in the House of Representatives, on Thursday, October 6th.
For the benefit of those citizens who may not be aware, and for the education of Mrs. Persad-Bissessar, who as a former Prime Minister ought to have known, but clearly does not (as is quite frequent with her), since the days of our first Prime Minister, the late Dr. Eric Eustace Williams, Blenheim House in Tobago, has always served as the residence of the Prime Minister, when visiting the island.
Blenheim House was used as recently as when the late Patrick Manning was Prime Minister, and was used by his predecessors also. Under the Persad-Bissessar government, it was allowed to fall into disrepair. As Prime Minister, Mrs. Persad Bissessar (and her Cabinet) preferred to use Private Hotels, even as they also ignored the state-owned Magdalena Hotel.
As a result, Prime Minister Rowley has been using his private home at Mason Hall on all his visits to Tobago. However, it is the Government’s intention to rebuild a proper Prime Minister's Residence at Blenheim, so that the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago (whoever he or she may be) can enjoy accommodations befitting of the holder of the Office, whenever he or she visits Tobago. There is provision in this budget to advance the architectural works for such work. When all is done and ready, there will be construction of a replacement building.
Mrs. Persad-Bissessar should be reminded that this non-issue does not remove from our memories, her refusal to occupy the Official Residence of the Prime Minister when she was appointed to office in 2010. It is well documented that she moved into the home of her friends, the Gopauls, at Pasea, and only moved out after the outcry relating to millions of dollars’ worth of Government contracts awarded to her hosts, in most cases, even when they didn’t have the ability to undertake the projects.
Mrs. Persad-Bissessar would also do well to note that a PNM Prime Minister is now occupying the Official Residence of the Prime Minister at La Fantasie, restoring dignity to the Office of Prime Minister. The high lifestyle and partying associated with the last regime in Trinidad and Tobago has come to an end. The Prime Minister is at work on time every morning.