The Tobago Ferry issue has now landed at an unfortunate impasse, with the PM chairing a meeting of Stakeholders next week Monday.
The loud allegations of corruption and bad practice are as varied as the defensive claims by public officials, so once again we seem to be in a cloudy place. Some real clarity is needed urgently, if we are to restore public confidence, not to mention the required level of service for the Tobago Ferry.
Given that both Minister Sinanan and Port Authority Chair, Ms Alison Lewis, have welcomed any investigation into this matter, immediate steps need to be taken to clear the air by publishing these details –
Ultimate Beneficial Owner – Who is the Ultimate Beneficial Owner of Bridgman’s Service Group? This is an elementary part of any due diligence process and should be readily available;
Tender Evaluations – The Tender Evaluation Reports for the several tender exercises undertaken to replace the Superfast Galicia, including those aborted or suspended exercises. The 39th recommendation of the Uff Report is directly applicable to this fiasco –
“…The reviewing of tenders and the making of decisions upon the award of contracts should be undertaken in as transparent a manner as possible, including demonstrating clear compliance with procurement rules, so as to allay suspicion of improper actions or potential corrupt influences…”
We continue to ignore those findings to our collective detriment.;
Ferry Contracts – The contracts for the Cabo Star and the now-cancelled Ocean Flower Two must now be published in the interests of transparency and accountability.
The public is paying for this Ferry arrangement, both in terms of actual Public Money and in terms of the tremendous inconvenience and losses, so there can be no reasonable case for further concealment of these critical details.
This is my interview with Rennie Bishop on 107.7 FM on Sunday 16 July 2017 to discuss the Eden Gardens debacle now come to light and continuing CL Financial bailout. Part 1 and Part 2. Video courtesy TTRN -Trinidad and Tobago Radio Network Limited.
TSTT’s share purchase agreement, announced on 2 May 2017, to buy Massy Communications Ltd has provoked a great deal of sceptical or negative public comment. I will not attempt a critique of that deal since it is well beyond my scope: in any case, the basic details have not been disclosed. We have been told that the price is $255M and that the deal is conditional upon the approval of the Telecommunications Authority of T&T (TATT).
The furore over this huge deal seems to be fueled by these three statements emerging from TSTT –
Transparency – TSTT cannot reveal the details of the deal to the Parliament’s Public Accounts Enterprises Committee (PAEC) since it is not obliged to follow either the Integrity in Public Life Act or the Freedom of Information Act. Further, TSTT is required, as a listed entity, to follow the provisions of the 2012 Securities Act in regard to the secrecy of pending transactions. What is more, TSTT and Massy Communications Ltd are both bound by a Non-Disclosure Agreement.
Accountability – The $255M purchase price is funded by $1.9Bn which TSTT raised from private lenders, so that money is presumed to be outside the definition of Public Money. One assumes, from the tone of those statements, that TSTT did not require a guarantee or letter of comfort from the State.
Good Governance – TSTT stated that the first time the Cabinet would have been aware of this transaction is via the press. This returns to the issue of just where is the lawful and proper boundary between the Cabinet and the various State Enterprises for which it is responsible. This again sparks the debate as to whether TSTT is really a State Enterprise.
One of the major issues facing the country as this recession unfolds is the pressing need to review the State Enterprise sector. A Cabinet-appointed committee, chaired by Dr Terrence Farrell, was established to examine the SOE sector, but we have no idea yet as to their recommendations.
One of the hugest State Enterprises is Petrotrin, a major player in the national economy, with the immense influence of the OWTU on the side of its workers. A great deal of discussion is now emerging on whether or how Petrotrin could be restructured or privatised.
This is my 12th April 2016 ‘Morning Brew’ interview with CNC3’s Hema Ramkissoon on the Invaders’ Bay matter…it is also the first time I made public comments on the JCC imbroglio, albeit after a sneaky series of questions from Hema…I guess that’s what crafty interviewers do, eh? As it happens, the questions remain outstanding on both those issues.
Programme Date: 12 April 2016 Programme Length: 00:22:32