Property Matters – Sole Selectives

Source: “Tender/Procurement Policies and Procedures” Ministry of Finance and the Economy: Central Tenders Board Division. April 2014

It seems that the current administration intends to execute its three largest projects on the sole selective basis and in my view that is a serious concern.

Sole Selective is a non-competitive contracting approach in which a single firm is selected to participate in a commercial opportunity. I have not limited the definition to the provision of goods, works or services since there are many other ways in which commercial arrangements can operate.

The sole selective approach can be readily adopted if the provider is someone with a proven track record which has created a sound working relationship. The other side of the coin is that this approach can be difficult to justify on value-for-money grounds due to the lack of competition.

Continue reading “Property Matters – Sole Selectives”

Property Matters – POS development prospects

Port of Spain. Downtown in the background, One Woodbrook Place in the foreground
Port of Spain. Downtown in the background, One Woodbrook Place in the foreground

The state of our capital city, POS, is a serious concern to any proud citizen or even our visitors. A real nation would treat its capital with pride, but in my view Port of Spain presents a painful paradox in several respects. Despite that, there are now some real opportunities for us to reconsider just how we manage our capital city. A new approach is needed to rescue our capital city in this time of reduced financial resources.

Some of the negatives include –

Our capital has been severely depopulated in the past 50 years – as shown in the graph and table, its 1960 population was 94,000, while the most recent census in 2011 showed a figure of only 37,000. Given that there has been no natural disaster, war or plague it is sobering to consider this steady population loss and its causes during that period of relative peace and prosperity. No doubt that loss has been due to the mismanagement of the city’s planning, traffic, parking, vending, crime, homelessness and sanitation issues. That series of mishandled and interlocking growing-pains produced an increasingly dirty, unsafe and crowded city which eventually lost its appeal. Continue reading “Property Matters – POS development prospects”

2017 Budget Review

The 2017 budget was presented on Friday 30th September 2016, with the known decline in State revenue having the expected impact. As shown in the graph and table, the Estimate of Revenue is now down to $47.4 Billion, which is itself a doubtful figure as I will show, with Estimated Expenditure at $53.475 Billion. That means the 2017 budget is being deficit financed by $6.075 Billion.

Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Revenue (millions TT$) $24,016 $34,129 $35,126 $40,381 $49,465 $36,664 $41,284 $47,000 $50,736 $55,041 $60,351 $60,287 $47,400
Expenditure (millions TT$) $27,918 $34,119 $38,054 $42,261 $44,206 $36,915 $49,016 $54,600 $58,405 $61,398 $64,664 $63,048 $53,475
(millions TT$)
-$3,902 $10 -$2,928 -$1,880 $5,259 -$252 -$7,732 -$7,600 -$7,669 -$6,357 -$4,313 -$2,761 -$6,075

Continue reading “2017 Budget Review”

Property Matters – 2017 Budget Prospects

The 2017 budget is due to be presented on Friday, 30 September 2016 to an anxious nation. Having had to endure the literally unbelievable optimistic economic claims of the previous government prior to the September 2015 general election, we were told by then Central Bank Governor, Jwala Rambaran, in December 2015, that the nation had been in recession for 6 months. I tell you. Of course that message has now been repeated after the messenger was dismissed for various alleged offenses, but that is for another column.

Our levels of public expenditure have moved sharply upward, with only a single decline in 2010, as shown in the graph and table for 2005-2016. Those totals are derived from the estimates stated in the various budget statements and do not represent the actuals. In that period, estimated revenue was $534.57Bn with estimated expenditure of $574.6Bn. That balance between revenue and expenditure yielded a combined deficit of $40.125Bn – 84% of which ($33.67Bn) occurred under the Peoples Partnership government, 2011-2015. Continue reading “Property Matters – 2017 Budget Prospects”

Property Matters – Hotel Facts

No Man's Land, Tobago is a potential site for Sandals Resort in TobagoThe previous article on the Sandals Tobago proposal ended by pointing to the need for attention to the underlying, commercial arrangements which drive projects of this type.

The procurement model is key to understanding how these large-scale, internationally-branded hotels are created and sustained. The two ends of the procurement show different approaches –

  1. hiltonposthe T&T model is one in which the State paid to design, build, fit and furnish the hotel to the specifications of the hotelier. The hotel then operates via a management contract which splits the revenue between the State and the hotelier. Trinidad Hilton, Tobago Hilton/Magdalena Grand and Hyatt Regency were built by the State using this method.
  2. The other approach is one in which the hotelier constructs the hotel and receives tax concessions from the ‘host State’ in return.

Both these are Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in which risk and reward are shared.

Continue reading “Property Matters – Hotel Facts”

Property Matters – Pay Day? Part Two

past-dueI previously estimated State debt to the construction industry in the $3.2-3.5 Billion range. I have since been reliably informed that construction industry claims against WASA are estimated to be in the $600M range, which of course would be subject to verification as discussed previously. My revised estimate (see table below) is now in excess of $3.8 Billion, compared to the JCC’s 27 July 2016 estimate of $2.3 Billion.

The size of my more recent estimate gives a severe picture of the State’s indebtedness to the construction industry, which is the sector that Central Bank research shows to be the largest employer in the national economy. Apart from that, the construction industry also has deep links to other important parts of the national economy such as quarrying; banking/finance/insurance; hardware stores; a range of manufacturers; transportation and so on. Continue reading “Property Matters – Pay Day? Part Two”

Property Matters – Pay Day?

JCC press conference with Dr. James Armstrong at left. Photo: AYANNA KINSALE. © 2016, Trinidad Express
JCC press conference with Dr. James Armstrong at left. Photo: AYANNA KINSALE. © 2016, Trinidad Express

The JCC has become dormant by today’s standards, with only two items posted to its website for 2016. I was therefore very interested in their 27th July 2016 Press Conference to protest the high levels of State debt to its members.

At a time of apparent crisis for the construction industry, one would think that the JCC would have been publicly lobbying on behalf of its membership since this had been so effective earlier. When Dr Armstrong became JCC President it was surprising that instead of applying continuous pressure to have the debts owed to members paid, the association’s first public action was an attack on me. Perhaps they thought this was a higher priority, but it’s hard to see how the industry benefited.

The JCC issued an ultimatum to the Government to pay the $2.3 Billion dollar debt owed to its members by 30th August or face litigation. Continue reading “Property Matters – Pay Day?”