Two weeks after the publication of the Tobago Sandals MoU yet there has been no cogent defence of these detrimental provisions. The stark analysis is that the provisions of that MoU all favour Sandals’ interests, so much so that I am frankly wondering if they were the authors. Serious and inescapable questions of professional responsibility arise, given the eminent named persons and State Agencies said to have been involved thus far.
The reputable economist Dr Vanus James, writing in the TapiaHouse blog on 10th December 2018 described the Tobago Sandals MoU as ‘A road-map to economic ruin’.
On Thursday 13th December 2018 I addressed a public meeting at the Scarborough Public Library on this issue organised by my esteemed elder, Reginald Dumas. That was a full house and there was strong engagement on the implications of these large-scale proposals.
The starting-point for me was to tackle the question put to me the morning before by a media colleague from Tobago as to my being ‘a Trinidadian‘ and my role in questioning these proposals for what is certainly the largest-ever single development in Tobago. The simple fact is that ours is a tiny Republic such that those positions hardly seem to be credible. After all, if one were to adopt such a position we could end up excluding the Charlotteville opinion for a Buccoo proposal. More seriously, that position is entirely incompatible with our Regional aspirations – after all, why should we in T&T bother with Grenada which is 90 miles away or even Barbados, which is a whole 270 miles away. You see?
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.
Programme Date: 13 December 2018 Programme Length: 01:40:58
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”→
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
If that phrasing sounds over-imaginative and gross, just consider these proposals for Tobago Sandals…
The previous article stated the bare facts about this large-scale development and placed those for consideration. The response, online and elsewhere, was such that I am now going to set out the main arguments being used by the promoters of this project and place those for consideration.
What is ultimately at stake here is the right of our Public Officials to negotiate these large-scale projects, in secret and on our behalf. The promoters of this project are claiming that intangible but substantial element, the Benefit of the Doubt. This article will examine the merit of those claims for the Benefit of the Doubt. Continue reading “Property Matters – the Benefit of the Doubt for Tobago Sandals?”→
Afra Raymond is interviewed by Asha Javeed on the “Business Edge” show on TV6, along with Procurement Regulator Moonilal Lalchan, to look at Transparency within the Government’s proposed game-changer projects for transformation and a sustainable local economy in the recent 2019 Budget presentation. Video courtesy TV6.
Programme Date: 21 October 2018 Programme Length: 00:10:00 and 00:08:06