Property Matters – Horses for Courses

horses for coursesAfter the imbroglio with NIDCO’s award last month of a $400M contract to KALLCO for a 5Km stretch of highway, we have once again been treated to a series of related high-profile announcements.

On Monday, 16 October 2017, Minister of Legal Affairs, Stuart Young MP, announced the counter-suit by State-owned Estate Management & Business Development Co (EMBD) against five contractors; former Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Dr Roodal Moonilal MP; and its former CEO, Gary Parmassar. The five contractors were:

  1. TN Ramnauth;
  2. Mootilal Ramhit and Sons;
  3. Namalco Construction Services Ltd;
  4. Fides Ltd; and
  5. Kallco.

According to Young, there was over 18 months of investigative work to ground those counter-claims which allege collusion and bid-rigging, resulting in over $200M defrauded from the State. The most decisive allegation seems to have been that then-Minister Moonilal was making the decisions on those contract awards. I have not yet been able to read the EMBD’s court filing.
Continue reading “Property Matters – Horses for Courses”

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VIDEO: Interview on C Television on EMDB corruption – 19 October 2017

C_Logo_color Fade inside out [Converted]All will be revealed…if we keep tugging at the loose threads that tie all the pieces together. This week, I discussed the EMBD matters in my Property Matters—Horses for Courses article. Check out my interview on Good Morning Trinidad and Tobago, in which I go into even further detail about the topic. Video courtesy CNMG.

Programme Date: 19 October 2017
Programme length:  00:13:53

The Importance of Memory

The Importance of Memory

I am writing this article on Friday 13th October 2017, which is the first time T&T has had a national holiday to honour the memory of our First Peoples.

These holidays are important, not only in the literal sense of having a day-off, but also marking certain critical events so that the collective memory could be preserved. That process of intentionally preserving important memories is seminal to the development of a civilisation. This extends to our business and professional life, even being decisive for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Our official record is so often vacant, by design, that one can scarcely assess the real situation or reliably make projections as to the likely outcomes of proposals. The Public Sector is a huge part of the national business, so it is critical how that sector conducts itself and how its ‘lessons learned’ are recorded. Ours is a sorry story of the public sector conducting itself outside the bounds of the law and good sense, not to mention actively suppressing or distorting reality.
Continue reading “The Importance of Memory”

VIDEO: “Bussin’ Files” at The Big Black Box on Wednesday 11 October 2017

This is the talk I did at the inaugural edition of the “Bussin’ Files” series at The Big Black Box in Port of Spain on Wednesday 11 October 2017. I discussed, the importance of information; our attitude to the truth; the deliberate concealment of facts; the Bernard and Uff Reports into construction sector misconduct; the CL Financial bailout; our false sense of superiority and some other matters. Video courtesy PixelPlay Media Limited.

 

Board Games Redux – the NIDCO matter

Board Games Redux – the NIDCO matter

These recommendations are from the 2010 Uff Report into the Construction Sector.

“…39. 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…
(The emphasis is mine)

“…54. There should be no doubt (as there presently is) as to the power of Ministers to give instructions to Government agency companies on any matter within the Minister’s remit, including compliance with rules, regulations and procedures. If this cannot be achieved by voluntary means, consideration should be given to creating the agency as a statutory corporation incorporating such powers…”

It is unacceptable that Cabinet is still making decisions on the award of large-scale contracts. What is more, this procedure continues to be the norm, so this week I am deferring any budget commentary to deal with this issue.

chremI am referring to the recent imbroglio emerging from the award of a $400M contract to KALLCO for a 5-Km (about 3 miles) stretch of the Toco to Manzanilla highway. Minister of Works & Transport, Rohan Sinanan, is related to KALLCO and he declared that he had recused himself from both the discussion and the decision made by Cabinet.

My concern is not Sinanan’s relationships, or indeed, whether or not he recused himself from both the discussion and decision stages of the Cabinet process. I have no good reason to doubt the Minister’s statement, my only point on that issue is that the continuing tradition of Cabinet secrecy has made it impossible to verify Sinanan’s assertions.
Continue reading “Board Games Redux – the NIDCO matter”

Ah, yes! Look trouble now! You know we love a good bachanale in sweet, sweet T&T, and we love it even more so when the government is at the centre of the discussion. And allya know how I love to mind the government business. But the Govt doh have no business of their own: Their business is our business…The Govt is our staff…

Now, I want to bring that conversation to a space where I could buss some files on the slackness plaguing our government. I will be talking about the lack of transparency, the issues of accountability and public procurement, and the Code of Silence that dictates all of their actions. The public has been kept in the dark and I am trying to shine the light onto these weaknesses.

And hear d bes’ part: Ah talkin’ fuh FREE! So, come join us at The Big Black Box on Murray Street next Wednesday, 11th October, at 6:30 PM. Come take a drink, tickle yuh mind, and engage with me on the topics I have dedicated much of my time and energy to understanding.

Doors will open at 6:00 PM.
Talk starts at 6:30 PM.

Property Matters – Tobago Sandals part three

Last week’s article outlined the research I have been conducting, with the support of my colleagues from Disclosure Today, into the ‘Underlying Commercial Arrangements‘ of the State-owned hotels in this country. Those are the decisive details which drive projects of this nature and from which the substantial public benefits ought to flow.

Details of the unhelpful responses from the various agencies with whom we engaged via the Freedom of Information Act only went to show that the actual conduct of these large-scale public private partnerships were virtually opposite to the repeated statements about openness and having nothing to hide. The Ministry of Finance was the only public authority to give a prompt and clear response.

SIDEBAR: Public Money

As I stated in ‘Everything but the Truth, published in this space on 10 June 2014, in relation to Public Money –

“The leading learning from which we have drawn serious lessons is Lord Sharman’s 2001 Report to the British Parliament ‘Holding to Account‘, which was a thorough examination of the definition, role and need for control of ‘Public Money‘. We expanded on Sharman’s definition of ‘Public Money‘ so as to capture the full range of possibilities, but we have accepted his key finding as to the requirement that ‘Public Money‘ is to be managed to a higher standard of Accountability and Transparency than Private Money – see 2.23 on pg 15. The contemporary, best-practice position in respect of the management of and accountability of Public Money being that the private sector rules are the bare minimum.”

This proposed large-scale investment would require significant sums of Public Money to be committed to the project. That commitment would be via direct investment or lease rentals; tax/duty concessions and expensive externalities such as improvements in the water/sewerage and electricity services or the expansion of the Crown Point Airport facilities. Continue reading “Property Matters – Tobago Sandals part three”