AUDIO: Interview on Power 102 FM on Invaders’ Bay Development 15 December 2016

Power 102 FMThis is my interview on the ‘Essential Public Interests at stake in the Invaders’ Bay development‘ Power 102.1FM’s ‘Power Breakfast‘ on Thursday, 15 December 2016 with Rhoda Bharath and Wendell Stephens.

  • Programme Date: 15 December 2016
  • Programme Length: 29:23

AUDIO: “Facing The Issues” interview with Tony Fraser along with Derek Chin on the Invaders’ Bay development.

Power 102 FMThis is my interview with Tony Fraser on Power 102.1FM on Wednesday 7 December 2016 to discuss the Invaders’ Bay development. The MovieTowne principal, Derek Chin, was also in the studio.

  • Programme Date: Wednesday, 7 December 2016
  • Programme Length: 1:37:34

Property Matters – Invaders’ Bay part two

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UDeCOTT artist’s impression of Invaders’ Bay development

There is a rising tide of confusion at Invaders’ Bay, so it is time to bring some understanding to this situation. The previous column delved into the Appeal Court rulings and the State’s application to appeal to the Privy Council. There is a lot more to be derived from those important rulings, but this week I am restating the case as to why this is a large-scale development of major importance.

Dr. Bhoendradatt Tewarie
Dr. Bhoendradatt Tewarie

In March 2012, Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie, the then Minister of Planning & Sustainable Development, confirmed that the 70-acres of undeveloped land at Invaders’ Bay was worth $1.28Bn. This would be the largest single development in our capital city in living memory, the only questions being ‘On whose terms?‘ and ‘For whose benefit?

In 2012, the PP Cabinet decided to lease two parcels of land at Invaders’ Bay –

  1. Dachin: 10.2 acres for a Commercial/Residential complex, a boutique hotel, a cultural focus area and three (3) main event entertainment areas comprising a Museum, Bowling Alley and Movie Theatres. View video presentation here.
  2. Invader’s Bay Marina Group: Commercial Development on 13 acres for Hotel, Commercial Office Complex, Cruise Ship Complex; Gas Station; Residential Development and Light Industrial Development; a Marina.

Continue reading “Property Matters – Invaders’ Bay part two”

Property Matters – Invaders’ Bay

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On 28 October 2016, the Appeal Court delivered its majority ruling upholding the decision of Justice Frank Seepersad on 14 July 2014 to order publication, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), of the legal opinions on which the Ministry had been relying. The JCC had won its case at both the High Court and the Appeal Court, so I called for immediate publication of the requested information. The JCC made no such call, neither did any of my erstwhile colleagues.

At an Appeal Court hearing on 21 November 2016, the State obtained leave, with the JCC’s consent, to appeal this matter at the Privy Council. Whilst in Opposition, the PNM made repeated complaints against the secretive conduct of the Invaders’ Bay development by the Peoples Partnership. Now in Government, the PNM has elevated secrecy in public affairs to a new prominence.

Since Dr James Armstrong was appointed JCC President in December 2015, that organisation has been silent on the Invaders’ Bay matter. This had previously been of high importance as a major development in our capital city, which was proceeding illegally and improperly. The JCC now seems to have reversed its earlier position of pressing for publication of those vital, suppressed documents. Continue reading “Property Matters – Invaders’ Bay”

AUDIO: Interview on Sky 99.5 FM on the JCC’s Invaders’ Bay law suit

sky995fmThis is a short interview I did with SKY 99.5FM on Tuesday 22nd November 2016 with Jessie-May Ventour and Edison Carr to discuss the Invaders’ Bay developments. Audio courtesy Sky 99.5 FM

  • Programme Date: Tuesday, 22 November 2016
  • Programme Length: 10:51

Invaders’ Bay – Appeal Court ruling

ttjudiciary

REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
IN THE COURT OF APPEAL
Civil Appeal No. P-200 of 2014
Between

THE MINISTER OF PLANNING AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Appellants

And

THE JOINT CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL FOR THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

Respondents

PRESS RELEASE

Today the Appeal Court delivered its majority ruling upholding the decision of Justice Frank Seepersad on 14th July 2014 to order publication of the legal opinions on which the Ministry had been relying.

This case began in 2013, when the JCC sought a judicial review of the refusal of the Ministry of Planning & Sustainable Development to publish legal opinions which the Ministry claimed supported its Request for Proposals (RFP) process in the proposed development of Invaders’ Bay. The JCC contended that the RFP process was being conducted in breach of the Central Tenders Board Act, but the Ministry claimed to have legal advice that its actions conformed to the CTB Act. It was that advice which the Ministry refused to publish.

Today’s Appeal Court ruling was a significant one in that it gave greater weight to the mandatory ‘Public Interest Test’ under the Freedom of Information Act, as against the Ministry’s reasons for its refusal on the grounds of legal professional privilege. The previous practice allowed the State to have discretion as to whether legal advice can be released. Had that practice been upheld at the Appeal we would have been facing a future in which any questionable project or policy could be concealed behind the screen of legal professional privilege. This ruling therefore significantly fortifies the Public Interest.

I now expect swift publication of the formal instructions and legal opinions on which the Ministry was relying in this highly-questionable matter. What is more, substantial sums of Public Money were spent in efforts to conceal these details and I am therefore taking the opportunity to ask for the details of those payments of legal fees to now be published – How much Public Money was spent on legal fees and to exactly whom did those monies go?

Another important aspect of this matter is that the Ministry’s official reason for its refusal to publish was changed during the litigation to legal professional privilege, but in this ruling the Court did not condone that change.

<–END RELEASE–>

Property Matters – Invaders’ Bay Reboot

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Once again, controversial development proposals for Invaders’ Bay are back in the news. Those proposals of the Peoples Partnership government appeared to have stalled after the successful legal action taken by the JCC in 2012, but we are now hearing of substantial proposals from the PNM government. Some serious questions have to be answered so that the public can understand the situation.

Invaders’ Bay is a 70-acre parcel of State-owned reclaimed land south of the Movietowne/Pricesmart/Marriott complex near to the National Stadium in west POS. In August 2011, the Ministry of Planning and the Economy published a Request for Proposals (RFP) inviting offers to develop those lands by design, finance and construct proposals.

The entire RFP process was deeply flawed and strongly criticized by the JCC, the T&T Chamber of Commerce, the T&T Manufacturers’ Association and the T&T Transparency Institute, as well as the PNM, then in opposition. To make just one example, the RFP entries were judged in accordance with Assessment Criteria which were published a full month after the closing date. At the time, I labelled the entire scheme as possessing all the ingredients for corruption – see http://www.jcc.org.tt/invadersbay.htm – but most importantly, the RFP was issued in breach of the Central Tenders Board Act.
Continue reading “Property Matters – Invaders’ Bay Reboot”

Facing the Facts on Invader’s Bay: INVADER’s BAY Corrective

JCC President Afra Raymond issues a corrective to the lead story in the Sunday Guardian of 9th August 2015. This ‘Letter to the Editor‘ was published in the T&T Guardian on Tuesday 11th August 2015.

The Editor,

guardian-story-invaders-bayThe cover story in Sunday’s Guardian on the Invader’s Bay development requires a response to dispel some of the carefully cultivated confusion around this important set of proposals.

The Public Property known as ‘Invader’s Bay’ comprises 70 acres of reclaimed land at the waterfront in west POS and it is proposed to be the largest development in our capital city in living memory. It is unacceptable that this large-scale development could be proceeding without any public consultation and in the seriously improper manner against which the JCC has protested. It is sobering that the very Ministry of Planning & Sustainable Development (MPSD) has been leading this process for the last four years without seeking to engage in public consultation.

The Request for Proposals (RFP) process used in August 2011 by MPSD was improper and voidable, since, according to Minister Tewarie himself, the Assessment rules were published one month after the closing date. Any reputable organisation running a competition or tender would accept that the rules must be given to all the competitors at the same time and well in advance of the competition itself. That basic and inescapable breach has been pointed-out to MPSD several times by the JCC, but we are yet to see any response on that point.

After JCC specified its concerns that the RFP was in breach of the Central Tenders Board Act, the Minister repeatedly stated that the legal advice was that MPSD was in conformity with the law. Despite our several requests, that advice was never published, so the JCC sued under the Freedom of Information Act. The High Court ruled that the requested information be published and MPSD appealed. One can only wonder at this reluctance by politicians to publish legal advice which supposedly supports their actions. This type of official reticence is a first, so on this count at least, the Invader’s Bay project has a significant element of innovation.

The JCC has enquired as to the cost of the High Court case and the subsequent appeal, but that too has remained undisclosed, for whatever reason.

According to Ms Jearlean John of UDECOTT, a tender has been awarded for design of infrastructure on this 70-acre site, but we also know from MPSD that no planning applications have been made for these developments. That raises the serious question as to how an infrastructure layout can be designed in the absence of either public consultation or relevant approvals.

The carefully cultivated confusion can be seen in three glaring examples – firstly, the question of official responsibility – with Minister Tewarie referring detailed queries to UDECOTT, whose chairman refers those queries back to that Minister. Secondly, according to MPSD, the 10.2 acre parcel allocated to Derek Chin was valued at $204.5M, yet Chin is reported as saying that “…the price is $130M…”. Finally, the entire property is 70 acres and 23.2 acres have been allocated, so it seems that 46.8 acres are to be left undeveloped at this stage. So, how can UDECOTT be responsible for only 51 acres, with Minister Tewarie saying that “…there are about 40 acres of land at Invader’s Bay still open for development…”?

These are a few of the real concerns with this proposed Invaders’ Bay development.

Afra Raymond
JCCPresident

http://www.jcc.org.tt