Housing Minister Randall Mitchell has come out in defence of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, denying that Government plans to build a golf course in Ste Madeleine as claimed by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Rowley, who missed Parliament on Friday to attend the Prime Minister’s Charity Golf Classic in Tobago, came under fire from Persad-Bissessar during the House session and at a UNC rally in Couva on Saturday. Persad-Bissessar accused Rowley of golfing at a time when the country was facing a water, unemployment and food crisis. She said Rowley had blanked dealing with important business, including the mid-year budget review in Parliament, and chose instead to go golfing with his friends in Tobago. Saying golf was played only by a select few, Persad-Bissessar said it made no sense building a golf course in Ste Madeleine when the country was facing an economic and social crisis.
But in an interview yesterday, Mitchell said Persad-Bissessar was deliberately misleading the society.
“We are not going to build a golf course in Ste Madeleine. That is absolutely not true,” Mitchell said.
“Kamla is playing smart with foolishness. She and Dr Roodal Moonilal are well aware that there exists in Usine Ste Madeleine, adjacent to the large pond, a golf course and a club house complete with tennis courts, a pool and a nine-hole golf course (which was) for use by former Caroni managers and workers.”
He said prior to 2015 the golf course fell in the constituency of Oropouche East, but after the boundary changes were made by the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) the facility fell in the constituency of San Fernando East.
“After the closing down of Caroni (in 2003) the facility fell into a state of disrepair. However, sometime during 2010 to 2015 the property was put under the control of the Property and Real Estate Division of the then Ministry of Housing, who managed the property,” Mitchell said.
He explained that a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the then Property and Real Estate Division and Cepep to maintain the property.
“Cepep maintained the golf course and cut the grass and in fact Dr Moonilal himself played golf on that course,” Mitchell said.
He noted that after the last general election the Property and Real Estate Division was put under the Ministry of Public administration and Government has since decided to put it to good use.
“Because the property has such great potential, the Ministry of Public Administration, in the 2017 budget, allocated $250,000 to complete a proper feasibility study for the future of the property but that study was never done,” Mitchell said.
He explained that the Cabinet recently decided to hand the facility over to the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, which will now make a “decision as to the way forward with that property.”
Mitchell said, however, that there were no plans to build a new golf course in Ste Madeleine and the Opposition knew that.
“She (Persad-Bissessar) is deliberately misleading the public knowing full well that a nine-hole golf course exists there since 1980. She is playing fast and loose with truth,” Mitchell added.
Several attempts were made to contact Rowley for comment on his cellular phone yesterday but he did not return calls or messages. Attempts to reach Persad-Bissessar and Moonilal were also unsuccessful.
SOURCE: www.guardian.co.tt (Radhica Sookraj)