Tobago Benchmark hosted a symposium on the “Impact of Sandals Resort on Tobago and No Man’s Land” on Thursday 18th August 2016 at the Buccoo Community Center. Afra Raymond was one of the guest speakers, focusing his talk on the “underlying commercial arrangements” which no one likes to talk about. Examples throughout the Caribbean are seemingly secret, but there are examples from the Trinidad and Tobago that can set a context for what is important as well as what is interesting. Video courtesy Tobago Benchmark.
“…This country should rest comfortably in the knowledge that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago…will do nothing to impede the flow of justice in this or any matter. And we will do everything within its duty and authority to facilitate the holding to account any and all persons who may have been found to have questions to answer. Like every other citizen, it is our expectation that as rights to fair treatment are protected, justice must always take its course swiftly…”
—Extract from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s statement to Parliament on the Colman Report on Friday, 1 July 2016. The emphases are mine.
This season is always one of reflection and re-dedication for me, with the two month transition from Emancipation Day on 1 August to Independence on the 31 August, then onto Republic Day on 24 September. I always spend this spell in some sober reflection, in between the life. It seems to me that the very sequence of events and the consequent holidays in the season imbue it with an inner meaning in terms of a national transition to some kind of depth and purpose. Emancipation to Independence to Republican status…maybe that is just sentimental of me, but let us see.
If we are not vigilant, there is a real danger that the details of this entire CL Financial matter – both the failure of the group and the huge bailout – will be made to disappear in an epic legal mangle. There has never been a conviction for large-scale white collar crime in our country. The CL Financial collapse is such a serious episode that there is inescapable evidence which can ensure consequences. At the same time, the main players are so wealthy and influential that they can devise an effective way to avoid justice, unless we exercise vigilance in the public interest. Continue reading “The Colman Report”→
The recent official statements about a proposal for a Sandals Resort in Tobago are significant, given both the convulsions in the Tourism portfolio and the urgent need to diversify our economy away from its long-term dependence on energy earnings. This is a preliminary view of some of the relevant considerations, since the sparse details now available do not permit a critique.
The various official statements outline that Sandals are in discussions with the State towards a new 750-room resort to be located in Tobago, which would both increase the overall room stock and bring collateral benefits if it proceeds.
Afra Raymond is interviewed on the ‘The Power Breakfast‘ show on Power 102 FM by Richard Ragoobarsingh, Wendell Stephens and Rhoda Bharath on the publication of the Colman Report into the failure of CL Financial. 13 July 2016. Audio courtesy Power 102 FM
Once again, controversial development proposals for Invaders’ Bay are back in the news. Those proposals of the Peoples Partnership government appeared to have stalled after the successful legal action taken by the JCC in 2012, but we are now hearing of substantial proposals from the PNM government. Some serious questions have to be answered so that the public can understand the situation.
Invaders’ Bay is a 70-acre parcel of State-owned reclaimed land south of the Movietowne/Pricesmart/Marriott complex near to the National Stadium in west POS. In August 2011, the Ministry of Planning and the Economy published a Request for Proposals (RFP) inviting offers to develop those lands by design, finance and construct proposals.
The entire RFP process was deeply flawed and strongly criticized by the JCC, the T&T Chamber of Commerce, the T&T Manufacturers’ Association and the T&T Transparency Institute, as well as the PNM, then in opposition. To make just one example, the RFP entries were judged in accordance with Assessment Criteria which were published a full month after the closing date. At the time, I labelled the entire scheme as possessing all the ingredients for corruption – see http://www.jcc.org.tt/invadersbay.htm – but most importantly, the RFP was issued in breach of the Central Tenders Board Act. Continue reading “Property Matters – Invaders’ Bay Reboot”→