COSTLY PRESIDENTIAL PHONE CALL

Guyana Guardian

President Trump’s phone call to Prime Minister Keith Rowley may have cost Trinidadians over TT$3 million

US President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up while placing a a call to another Head of State in the oval office. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)US President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up while placing a a call to another Head of State in the oval office. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Port-of-Spain, Trinidad (Guyana guardian) – With Caribbean leaders counting on a direct connection to US President Donald Trump to boost their domestic and regional political image, very few of them are willing to fork out the exorbitant price tags that many of the big shot lobbying firms in Washington DC are charging to set up a call.

But when it became known that Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley had received a call from President Trump last Sunday (19 February), observers eyebrows were raised as they try to analyze the real reason behind the call.

And even though for most of them the answers were somewhat evasive, the Guyana Guardian’s correspondents bureau in Maryland was able to ascertain that the call was organized by a paid political lobbyist firm that also handles lobbying work in Washington DC for Russia, Iraq, and Nigeria among others.

According to the Guyana Guardian’s findings, Trinidad and Tobago have been pressing for a Trump phone call since the 24 January this year, and had approached two major lobbying firms in Washington DC including a mid-size agency that is closely tied to the Republican Party.

However, even though the exact price tag for arranging the call was not provided to the Guyana Guardian, this publication was reliably informed that the retainer fee is a standard US$28,000 plus additional charges for the prescribed service.

And based upon existing standard figures from the same firm, organizing a phone call with President Trump will cost from US$450,000 (TT$3,043,000) upwards to about US$2 million depending on several other factors.

These fees are not paid to the President or endorsed by the President in any way. They are basically sums charged by an agency with connections, who will generally press the President’s inner circle to encourage him to make the call for one reason or the other.

While using lobbyist to advance their interest in Washington DC, and to communicate with the US President is nothing new, or technically wrong, citizens in most small island nations such as Trinidad and Tobago are often wary of the cost that are often placed on taxpayers to hire lobbyists.

Trinidad and Tobago remain the first and only Caricom country to receive a call from the US President himself.

The call is believed to have lasted for about two and a half minutes.

On the other hand, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness had received a call from US Vice President Mike pence, which is also suspected to be organized by a hired lobbyist.

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