(Trinidad Guardian) Works and Infrastructure Minister Jack Warner says people within and outside the United National Congress are engaging in a campaign to get rid of him. Warner said that as he dismissed a claim by the chairman of Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute, Richard Joseph, that he had contributed to this country’s lower ranking in Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). Joseph said Warner’s continued presence in the Cabinet pending investigations against him was adversely affecting the country’s corruption perception. Investigations are ongoing into allegations of wrongdoing by Warner in his former capacity as vice-president of world football governing body, FIFA.
When reporters approached Warner after the appointment of 115 Traffic Wardens at the Police Academy, St James, Warner said: “All you guys make me laugh, you know, anytime all you smell a bacchanal, all you rush me.” He then responded to the question. “The whole thing is at the end of the day, I am not bothered by what Transparency International has said,” he declared. “There seems to be a ‘Get Jack Warner mission’ that will not succeed. “At the end of the day, I will be dismissive of that as well.”
Asked specifically if he felt there was support for the anti-Warner campaign from within the Government and Cabinet, he said: “Oh sure, there are…How many I don’t know but in any organisation you will have this. “There are university students who are blogging anti-Jack Warner sentiments, I know who they are, there are groups being paid to do this, there are guys who have offices and are paid a salary to do this,” Warner said. In response to another question, he said: “In the UNC there are guys doing other things (and) I hope they’re not being paid…I am saying this is quite normal in any organisation.”
Warner said it was “very strange how FIFA could tell governments not to interfere in FIFA business, and if they do, the country shall be suspended, but our country here trying to go on their knees, on their belly, prostrate to interfere in FIFA business.” He said that can only happen in T&T “because we’re small, but if we’re small we don’t have to be stupid.” Commenting on the TI ranking of this country, Warner said it could be determined by the movements of other countries surveyed or an increase or decrease in the number of countries involved in the survey. He said he checked the TI report on the Web site yesterday morning and there was “nothing about Jack Warner.”
He said Joseph presented his own opinion because the Opposition had failed to move him, so he was now attempting to do so. “He too will fail…I answer to no one except Mrs Persad-Bissessar and definitely not Joseph and the Opposition,” Warner said. Questioned on the decision by Persad-Bissessar to instruct Finance Minister Winston Dookeran to conduct an audit of the Programme for the Upgrade of Roads Efficiency (PURE), he said she was within her right to do that.
“If she believes there is need for an audit, let the audit come,” he said. “I am not disturbed by that and I am sure PURE is not, so there is nothing to me untoward about that.” He said what the Prime Minister wanted to determine was whether the allegations were right or wrong. Warner said, however, that as far as he was concerned, there were no irregularities at PURE. He said PURE and the minister were audited in October by the Auditor General and there had been no adverse reports. Meanwhile, the 115 Traffic Wardens appointed will take to the streets on Monday as new traffic plans are introduced in ten communities across Trinidad.