The anti-corruption discourse in our country usually rationalises the failure or refusal to prosecute any important persons for corrupt acts as being a result of our small size. After all, everyone has a friend who will see for them. Those friends will warn them, lie for them, forget for them or even lose a file or two for them. We have all had these frustrating discussions and wondered if we can ever muster the will or the wits to lock-up the important people who regularly commit acts of grand corruption.
When one considers the global news on this anti-corruption struggle, it is clear that in some substantial way the tide has turned. In a variety of countries, the citizens have become so outraged at the damage that large-scale corruption has done to their societies that the authorities there have now started to take decisive action against this scourge. It all makes me wonder when is the Caribbean going to catch-up with the rest of the world in punishing these destructive acts. Continue reading “Does Size really Matter?”→
The impending closure of Petrotrin has virtually captured the major part of our national debate in a swift and serious way. Many commentators seem to have taken strong stances in which their loyalties are displayed and there is a distinct lack of the basic facts.
This is no essay on the oil & gas aspects of the Petrotrin closure as those are areas outside my understanding. In this article, I will examine three of the most serious governance issues now emerging as this seemingly-unstoppable process rolls onward.
The issues I will be delving into are:
the information asymmetry on display here;
the enhanced offer to workers and finally,
the issues arising in relation to Petrotrin’s huge land-holdings.
This article summarises the total Public Money spent on this CL Financial bailout and also outlines some further concerns.
CLF BAILOUT PAYMENT SUMMARY
Interest & Finance
Services & Supplies
Source – Correspondence with Finance Ministry PS
Various payment summaries and the CL Financial Management Accounts (unaudited) for 2015, 2016 and 2017 were provided thus far in response to my requests for information of 4th May 2018. Notwithstanding those details, the Ministry is yet to respond substantively to my requests, so I have instructed my attorneys to take the necessary steps to settle this request for information.
In January 2009, this bailout started with a $5.0 Billion estimated cost. In October 2010, we were told that $7.3 Billion had been spent and that a further $7.0 Billion was needed to pay all the claims – a total of $14.3 Billion. A compilation of the Ministry’s summary data, on which I am relying, show a total of $25.95 Billion in Public Money spent at this stage, taking no account of unsatisfied creditors.
‘…Doublethink is the ability to hold two completely contradictory beliefs at the same time and to believe they are both true…’
—from George Orwell’s ‘1984’
“…Rowley said the new “slang” was that his Government was one of secrecy. He said he fully agreed that the public had a right to know, but if one is conducting business, information develops in stages. He said the Government was hiding nothing about the Sandals deal…”
—Reported speech of PM Dr. Keith Rowley from ‘Rowley: Petrotrin figures not the issue‘ in the Trinidad Express on 20th September 2018
The previous article, together with my presentation at the pre-budget seminar hosted by the Greater Tunapuna Chamber of Industry & Commerce on Monday 17th September 2018, sparked a series of responses. More information is clearly needed to clear up what I call ‘carefully crafted confusion‘. That phrase emerged during the Invaders’ Bay imbroglio while the Peoples Partnership was in office.
The official practice in our country is to withhold details of important public agreements and contracts. That is now the standard, in which if those are ever disclosed it is only when the contracts have been signed and sealed. Those opaque practices are not limited to the current PNM administration. Last week I closed with a list of examples which span both political parties.
This article explains how opacity in public contracts is inimical to the public good since it inhibits good procurement outcomes and deprives the public of necessary details at a high-tide mark in the Global Information Age. Sad to say, it all comes down to notions of trust, since the previous conduct of our rulers has been so poor that public trust is at an all-time low. Continue reading “OPEN CONTRACTING? Part Two”→
Our country is now at a state of flux insofar as the next stages of our development, which is largely dependent on the relationships between our leaders and us as citizens. This is a serious moment in the development of our Republic, so this is forming a key part of my Season of Reflection.
The long oil/gas boom we enjoyed is drawing to a close, so we are now therefore forced to really deal with hard diversification questions to maintain the viability of our society.
We have never before had such an educated population. Our country has more persons with degrees and professional qualifications than ever before – doctors, engineers, lawyers, IT specialists, accountants and finance professionals, lawyers, surveyors and teachers. We therefore have a citizenry which is capable of playing a huge role in the inescapable task of turning the corner into a new series of options for our society. Continue reading “Open Contracting?”→
Afra Raymond is with Ralph Maraj on i95.5FM discussing the hot topic of the day: the La Brea Dry Dock project. They cover the Government to Government Agreement; the contractor hired, the China Harbour Engineering; and the new Public Procurement System. Audio courtesy i95.5 FM
Programme Date: Tuesday 18th September Programme Length: 00:40:26
Afra was part of a distinguished panel of speakers at a pre-budget forum discussing the subject ‘Understanding Where We Are…Today – Trinidad and Tobago Economy”. This event was held by the Greater Tunapuna Chamber of Industry and Commerce. The secrecy of government-to-government or State projects are analysed with a conclusion that an educated population must be part of the diversity of views that become part of the modern national decision making process.
NOTE – Conrad Enill, Group CEO of Eastern Credit Union, did not appear at this meeting as billed. Mariano Browne, former Minister in the Ministry of Finance and Minister of Trade & Industry, spoke in that slot.
Programme Date: 17 September 2018 Programme Length: 00:15:00