Professor John Uff has promised, before Easter, to deliver the report of the Commission of Enquiry into the construction sector, the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott), and the Cleaver Heights housing project.
In response to a T&T Guardian e-mail yesterday, Uff, who is in London, said the commissioners could not meet the February 28 deadline because of late submissions. Uff, who chaired the commission of enquiry, also welcomed last Friday's judgment by Justice Mira Dean-Armorer, who dismissed a judicial review application brought by Udecott against the commissioners. The full text of the e-mail reads: "The Commissioners of the Commission of Enquiry into the Construction Sector note and welcome the judgment delivered on Friday 5 March 2010, dismissing claims of apparent bias by the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (Udecott). "The Report of the Commissioners is now at an advanced stage of preparation. However, the final written submissions of UDeCOTT were received only on March 1, 2010. In addition, the final statement of the Honourable Colm Imbert, Minister of Works and Transport, on the Cleaver Heights Housing Project which was received on 26 February 2010, has made it necessary to invite further comment on new matters raised. "The Commission has written to His Excellency, the President, to inform him that, as a result of late delivery of final submissions, a further extension to the Commissioners' programme will be needed. However, it remains the Commissioners' intention to complete their report and to deliver it to His Excellency, the President, as soon as possible."
This was the third extension being sought by the commission from the President. On September 9, 2008, President George Maxwell Richards appointed four people as commissioners to inquire into certain matters in relation to the construction sector. The commission began sitting and heard opening statements on January 12, 2009, and had, up to September, held three sets of hearings during the course of which a substantial amount of information was received by the commissioners by way of written statements, oral testimony under oath, and round-table discussions, on some eight items of the terms of reference. Days before the start of the final set of hearings on September 7, it was discovered that the commission had not been gazetted as is required by Section 15 of the Commission of Enquiry Act on September 9, 2008, when the commission was established.�As a result, Attorney General John Jeremie went to Parliament and got both Houses to pass the Validation Act, and which was assented to on November 3. This gave the commission a retroactive effect, meaning that all the evidence taken before the error was discovered, was still valid.
The Government appointed former Appeal Court judge, Anthony Lucky, to investigate why the report was not gazetted. He submitted his final report to the AG, but nothing has been heard about it again. The fourth and final phase ended on December 8, 2009, with chairman John Uff, QC, promising to produce his report by the end of February 2010. There was also an undertaking from the commission that the report would not be handed over to the President until judgment was given in the judicial review case. So far, Udecott has not appealed Dean-Armorer's judgment.