This article will delve deeper into the State Enterprise sector and its role as an agent of government policy with huge transactions in Public Money. I will do so by continuing my focus on the State-owned hotels and their performance, drawn from the official record.
The poor quality of investment decisions with our limited Public Money has left us saddled with projects no private investor would have contemplated beyond an initial appraisal stage. Public Money ought to be managed to and accounted for to higher standards than those applicable to Private Money. That standard learning appears to have evaporated in our country.
The Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in relation to our State-owned hotels are evidently beneficial to the hoteliers but of limited, if any, benefit to the Public as shareholders. PPPs here in T&T are ones in which we have privatised the profits and nationalised the losses. That is what happened at Tobago Hilton and, in significant respects, at Carlton Savannah – as detailed in ‘Carlton Savannah Swirl‘ published in this space on 15 February 2015. What is more, some of the leading beneficiaries of those arrangements, such as Arthur Lok Jack, can declare – “Government has to get the hell out of private sector business.”. Continue reading “Property Matters – Cycle of Consequences”
The concerted attempts to sell the Tobago Sandals project were driven by high-level Public Officials who repeatedly assured the public that the existing arrangements for the three State-owned hotels were working satisfactorily. So much so that we should be pleased that the existing arrangements were to be adopted for the new project. The two main promoters were PM, Dr Keith Rowley and the Minister in the Office of the PM, Stuart Young.
Of course, we now know, due to the unplanned publication of that Tobago Sandals MoU, what were the terms and conditions on which the State intended to engage that project. No other hotelier had ever had a deal like that.
But there is a deeper series of official conversations on these existing State-owned hotels which need to be spotlighted so that a better view can be had as to ‘Who is Who and What is What’.
I am relying on the official records in this one, with my sparing commentary shown below – Continue reading “Property Matters – Hotel Reservations”
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
This article summarises the total Public Money spent on this CL Financial bailout and also outlines some further concerns.
CLF BAILOUT PAYMENT SUMMARY
|Interest & Finance
|Services & Supplies
Source – Correspondence with Finance Ministry PS
Various payment summaries and the CL Financial Management Accounts (unaudited) for 2015, 2016 and 2017 were provided thus far in response to my requests for information of 4th May 2018. Notwithstanding those details, the Ministry is yet to respond substantively to my requests, so I have instructed my attorneys to take the necessary steps to settle this request for information.
In January 2009, this bailout started with a $5.0 Billion estimated cost. In October 2010, we were told that $7.3 Billion had been spent and that a further $7.0 Billion was needed to pay all the claims – a total of $14.3 Billion. A compilation of the Ministry’s summary data, on which I am relying, show a total of $25.95 Billion in Public Money spent at this stage, taking no account of unsatisfied creditors.
What could possibly have accounted for this staggering increase in expenditure? Continue reading “CL Financial bailout – a summary”
Afra was part of a distinguished panel of speakers at a pre-budget forum discussing the subject ‘Understanding Where We Are…Today – Trinidad and Tobago Economy”. This event was held by the Greater Tunapuna Chamber of Industry and Commerce. The secrecy of government-to-government or State projects are analysed with a conclusion that an educated population must be part of the diversity of views that become part of the modern national decision making process.
NOTE – Conrad Enill, Group CEO of Eastern Credit Union, did not appear at this meeting as billed. Mariano Browne, former Minister in the Ministry of Finance and Minister of Trade & Industry, spoke in that slot.
Programme Date: 17 September 2018
Programme Length: 00:15:00
Afra Raymond is interviewed by Hema Ramkissoon on CNC3’s ‘Morning Brew’ on Monday 10th September 2018 to discuss the recently-announced La Brea Dry Dock project with China Harbour Engineering Company. Perspectives on T&T-China relations and government-to-government contracts are given. Also touches on Curepe Interchange project.
Programme Date: 10 September 2018
Programme length: 00:16:32
“…Whereas the People of Trinidad and Tobago—…(b) respect the principles of social justice and therefore believe that the operation of the economic system should result in the material resources of the community being so distributed as to subserve the common good…”
—From the preamble of our Republic’s current Constitution (1976)
In this, my Season of Reflection, I return to my constant concern with our national housing polices and the outcomes of the State’s housing program for our neediest citizens. The quality of discourse and understanding is in my view rooted in the quality of the questions one poses. How we define the problem allows us to improve our chances of seeing and solving.
The inescapable challenge for our national housing program is to provide sufficient affordable housing options of a decent quality. The HDC’s waiting-list is now in excess of 176,000 individual applicants, which excludes co-applicants or dependents. Over 90% of those applicants cannot afford a mortgage or to ever buy their own homes. They are just too poor to do so.
So this is the big question which our Housing program must answer.
How do we house those who can least afford good-quality housing? Continue reading “Property Matters – The Housing Gap”