Afra Raymond was at the Scarborough Public Library in Tobago on 13 December 2018 to speak on his successful Freedom of Information request to see the Memorandum of Understanding between the T&T government and the Sandals Group to develop and run a Sandal/Beaches resort in Tobago. His analysis of the MoU was discussed and Q&A followed.
The previous article examined the clauses of the Tobago Sandals MoU and I took the position that those provisions were entirely in favour of Sandals, which was investing none of the capital. What is more, the MoU offers unspecified incentives and exemptions to Sandals, as well as a free hand in terms of purchasing and employment. Incredible, but true. This is where we are.
This article will examine the MoU further, starting with the question of just why was it released at this advanced stage after 9 months of claiming that its contents were secret and that disclosure would damage the ongoing negotiations.
It could be that the Cabinet, acting in the public interest and in the face of my litigation, decided to release the MoU as a tangible show of transparency. On the other hand, it could be that the ongoing negotiations have now settled to the point that the release of the MoU was literally immaterial to the desired outcome. That second version seems to me to be the more likely one, given the mid-December date disclosed for signing the real contracts. If that is really the case, we are witness to a sobering moment in terms of the implications of this Public Private Partnership. Continue reading “Property Matters – Tobago Sandals MoU, part two”→
Afra Raymond was a participant in a Post-budget Forum at Cipriani College of Labour & Cooperative Studies (CCLCS) on Wednesday 10th October 2018, along with Senator the Hon. Allyson West, Minister in the Ministry of Finance; Corrine Gregoire, lecturer and researcher at CCLCS; and, David Muhammad sociologist, author and host of the Black Agenda. Video courtesy CCLCS
0:04:07 Allyson West
0:23:59 Corrine Gregoire
0:47:43 David Muhammad
1:12:31 Afra Raymond
1:36:32 Vote of Thanks
29th November 2018 was the first hearing of my Judicial Review of the refusal of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to provide a copy of the Tobago Sandals Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which I had requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) since 27th February 2018. At that hearing, the OPM agreed to provide the MoU and pay my costs, so my lawsuit was withdrawn.
This Tobago Sandals MoU was signed on 10th October 2017 and should have been disclosed long ago, without any necessity for legal action on my part. The PM and Minister Stuart Young repeatedly told the public that these details could not be published as that would undermine these important negotiations and so on and so forth.
Nine months of delays and obfuscation verging on an abuse of process, but that is just my opinion, as the OPM was advised by eminent Senior Counsel, Deborah Peake.
When the MoU was released at a press conference the evening before, Minister Stuart Young was emphatic that the decision to publish had nothing to do with me or my litigation. One has to wonder at the quality of advice being taken by the Cabinet. Continue reading “Property Matters – Tobago Sandals MoU”→
Afra Raymond was interviewed on the Power Breakfast programme on the recently disclosed Sandal Tobago Memorandum of Understanding obtained via court order following a successful Freedom of Information challenge by Raymond. Audio courtesy Power 102.1 FM
Programme Date: 3 December 2018 Programme Length: 00:39:00
I applied to the High Court for a Judicial Review of the refusal of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to provide the Tobago Sandals MoU under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA). On 11th October 2018, I was granted leave to proceed with the Judicial Review and the Case Management Conference is set for 29th November 2018.
Does the public have the right to know what are the terms and conditions of the various large-scale projects being done by the State?
The twists and turns in this episode seem to be ‘Carefully Crafted Confusion‘ – a phrase I coined during the Invaders’ Bay imbroglio under the previous PP administration. Large-scale projects on valuable public land, expected to require heavy public investment, all being done for the benefit of the public of course, yet the details are kept under covers.
The State’s shifting positions on Tobago Sandals are striking. For example, Minister Stuart Young gave these interviews on CNC3 TV –
Wednesday 28 February 2018 – in which he insisted that there was no secrecy or any reluctance to engage with the public on this mega-project.
Wednesday 17th October 2018 – in which he stoutly defended the need for secrecy of the MoU. Of course, having been sued for the refusal to provide the not-secret MoU, an entirely different position is now adopted. With ‘a straight-straight face’, as David Rudder would say. Well I tell you.