Kamla: I’m settling Clico at home first

(Trinidad Guardian) Government must first examine what will happen “at home” in T&T regarding the Clico matter before it can consider outside, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has said, noting regional concerns about the Clico issue. Persad-Bissessar spoke to reporters yesterday on the Clico matter, as well as issues discussed by Caricom leaders at their caucus discussions. Persad-Bissessar returns to T&T from the summit this evening, having offered Caricom plans in transport, energy, maritime security and education over the last couple days. With a great air of expectation directed toward T&T during the summit’s opening, Persad-Bissessar had assured leaders in caucus that T&T’s Government took its relationship and responsibility to Caricom very seriously.

She had said her one-year-old Government must ensure it could discharge its obligations at home, regionally and internationally, and that any perceived deficiency with Caricom “has not been a lack of commitment, but a lack of capacity…(but) we are getting there,” she added. Yesterday, Persad-Bissessar chaired a meeting of Caricom’s Security committee at the St Kitts Marriot resort where the summit is being held. Leaders started their day with a 6 am “Fitness Morning” walk led by Caricom Chairman Denzil Douglas. Persad-Bissessar, Guyana’s Bharrat Jagdeo and several others did not participate in the rainy morning workout.

Soon after the walk, Grenada Prime Minister Tillman Thomas spoke about his concern for assurances from the T&T Government for Grenadian and other regional citizens on the Clico matter.

Speaking to the Sunday Guardian subsequently, Persad-Bissessar said: “Yes, there has always been concern with respect to Clico. The formula even in T&T is cause for concern, we’re looking  at that—first, for what will happen in T&T and only thereafter, can we consider outside.

“A lot of the islands are very concerned about the Clico matter. But at the same time, the onus on the government is already so heavy in terms of our own wage negotiations and the Clico matters in T&T.”

Persad-Bissessar said caucus discussions focused at length on REDjet and T&T’s safety. She said there was no final decision on this since T&T raised security and safety issues. “There has not been any further communication on what could or should have been done. A recommendation was made at the (Caricom) caucus for civil aviation authorities of each state to jointly have a look at the safety issues raised. But I said I would have to return to Cabinet to discuss it before I can make a decision on that.”

Persad-Bissessar said the safety aspect was paramount in the REDjet matter.

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