This article uses the threads I have been exploring in relation to the two large-scale Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Tobago to discuss the risks which are likely to arise quite soon in that arena.
The case will be made in three parts – the existing two PPPs, with a note on the Tobago Sandals MoU fiasco; the emerging arrangements for new PPPs in Tobago and the perils arising from the failure or refusal to examine the failed PPPs.
Magdalena Grand (formerly Tobago Hilton)
This 198-room hotel was built in 2000 on the Tobago Plantations estate by Vanguard Holdings, which comprised Guardian Holdings, Angostura Ltd and the T&T State via e Teck, with Hilton International having a minor shareholding. The project was financed with a $16.75M USD bond from Citicorp and was soon in difficulty, as in 2008 the State had to bail-out the private shareholders and commit large sums of Public Money to repair the buildings, which were by then badly-damaged by sea-blast. Continue reading “Property Matters – Tobago Love”→
Afra Raymond made a presentation at the 4th Caribbean International Tourism Conference at UWI’s Cave Hill Campus in Barbados on Trinidad & Tobago’s State-owned hotels to outline the results and provisional conclusions of his research examining the existing State-owned hotels as a way of understanding the real prospects for the large-scale Tobago Sandals proposed by the incumbent government in 2015.
‘Manufactured consent’ is supported by “…effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function by reliance on market forces, internalized assumptions, and self-censorship, and without overt coercion…“.
This article is based on notes for my presentation today to the Fourth Caribbean International Tourism Conference (CITC 2019) at UWI’s Cave Hill campus. My presentation will be on Trinidad & Tobago’s State-owned hotels to outline the results and provisional conclusions of my research. I designed that research program to examine the existing State-owned hotels as a way of understanding the real prospects for the large-scale Tobago Sandals being proposed by the current government in 2015.
“…A nod is as good as a wink to a Blind Horse…”
—A cynical Cockney view of political tricks.
“…You drink your rum, well let me drink mine…”
—A cynical local saying on how improper behaviour is tacitly accepted.
In this case, the THA, making its long-standing case for increased autonomy, seems comfortable to defend the wretched MILSHIRV agreement almost in the same breath as its perennial complaints of severe financial hardship. Well I tell you.
The misbegotten MILSHIRV project is ground-zero in the workbook for how PPPs and BOLT arrangements can violate the Public Interest. Our responsible senior Public Officials agreed to change the terms of the lawsuit so that the legality of this BOLT contract was never tested by the Court, so the matter was converted by agreement to become an ‘interpretation‘ issue. Given the Court of Appeal ruling on 21st October 2019, the Public Interest has once again been grossly violated.
Typical views of failed projects consider delayed completions, cost over-runs or structural failure but despite the popularity, such views are entirely incorrect. The proper position is that the only failed project is one from which we learn no lessons. That is the real learning here.
This article examines the recent Court of Appeal ruling that the THA did not have the power to enter certain PPPs as had been done in the MILSHIRV project.
In November 2011, the THA entered a Public Private Partnership with the Rahael Holdings group for MILSHIRV, a new office building at the corner of Claude Noel Highway and Shirvan Road in western Tobago. I was heavily critical of that project as it was clear to me that the basic principles of needs assessment had been violated, as detailed later in this article. Continue reading “Property Matters – THA BOLT Appeal”→
The first article in this series set out the background to these proposed bonds and the implications of the HDC’s perennial problem with bad property titles. The second drew parallels between these proposals and the roots of the 2008 Wall Street crash, with some references to Jamaica’s National Housing Trust and its contribution system as an alternative for financing affordable housing. This week I conclude by delving into the heart of the matter, the HDC’s finances and its performance in terms of its existing bond portfolio.
One of my persistent complaints against many of our State Agencies, including the HDC, is the long-term failure or refusal to publish proper audited accounts as required by laws and regulations. I am pleased to report that my requests for NHA/HDC financial statements from 2003 to 2018 were satisfied in April this year. Once again, I thank the exemplary officers at the HDC for their assistance. Even if this time I had to engage my attorney to send HDC a pre-action protocol letter before the financial statements were released and what is more, they have not refunded my legal fees.
Afra Raymond’s presentation on “State-owned hotels as a development option for T&T: Lessons for Small Islands Developing States” at the ISTT Caribbean Land Conference 2019 – Surveying best practices towards the sustainable development of Caribbean SIDS, at Hilton Trinidad Friday October 11, 2019.
Programme Length: 00:25:20 Programme Date: 11 October 2019
“…In 2008 we had established what we called an HDC Unit in anticipation of 3500 mortgages from HDC within three years. Three years later we had to disband that Unit because the HDC did not have the titles that would afford mortgages…”
—testimony of TTMF’s then Managing Director, Ms. Ingrid Lashley, at pg. 126)
The most frequent question arising from last week’s article was in relation to this issue of bad titles on homes built by NHA and HDC, which made it impossible to finance sales via the traditional mortgage lenders. This requires an explanation before getting to the root of my concerns over the parallels with the US financial collapse in 2008 – the Wall Street meltdown which extended to have global consequences. Beyond that, I will draw on Jamaica’s National Housing Trust as an example of an alternative system of housing finance, less dependent on the agents of financialization now looming in the current T&T proposals. Continue reading “Property Matters – HDC Housing Bonds, part 2”→
This article will examine the proposed HDC Housing Bonds announced by Finance Minister Imbert in Parliament on Friday, 20 September 2019. The proposal is to borrow $1.0 Billion via bonds in various tenors offering investors tax-free returns of 4.5%. The funds raised are to be used for purchasing HDC homes, which was stated to be of importance in addressing critical financial challenges in that State Agency.