Friday 7th March, 2008

 

Ramesh urges PM to jump out jet deal

 
 
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BY ADRIAN BOODAN

Opposition chief whip Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj is calling on Prime Minister Patrick Manning to get out of the private jet business before it backfires.

Maharaj said the acquisition of the jet was a deal filled with corruption and kickbacks.

He called for a public investigation into Manning’s role in the acquisition of the jet and the reasons why the jet was kept hidden from the public before it was exposed by the media and the UNC.

Maharaj was at the time speaking at a media conference after the party’s executive meeting on Wednesday at the Rienzi Complex, Couva.

Maharaj said Manning is using Caribbean Airlines as a vehicle to hide the truth.

Maharaj claimed that the initiatives for the purchase of a private jet originated with Manning at a time when the Government was under scrutiny with the rapid rail project.

“No amount of releases from Caribbean Airlines could convince any reasonable person that Caribbean Airlines has decided on its own in initiative to acquire a private jet.”

Maharaj said chairman of Caribbean Airlines Arthur Lok Jack has admitted that the private jet business would not be economically viable for at least two years.

He said the Government divested its holdings in BWIA so Caribbean Airlines could make money.

“I want Mr Manning to deny it, or Mr Lok Jack to deny it that the Government has underwritten any loss that Caribbean Airline would suffer in the acquisition use and operation of Mr Manning’s jet, that is the truth and that is why Mr Manning is hiding.”

Maharaj said Manning has fallen in love with jets, especially this one, which is costing the country $500 million.

He said Manning was spending money as if the Treasury belonged to him while nationals had to cope with bad health care, rising food prices and a soaring crime rate.