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PM halts 2 projects in Tobago (with CNC3 video)
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has ordered the PNM-controlled Tobago House of Assembly (THA) to halt immediately two controversial multi-million dollar construction projects on the island to allow for investigations into them. The projects are the $250 million Tobago Aquatic Centre and Indoor Sporting Complex and the $143 million THA Administrative Complex.
She was contributing to yesterday’s debate on the 2013 national budget in the House of Representatives. The PM said: “The projects should be halted pending proper clarification.” She added: “The matters (projects) be referred to the Attorney General, the DPP and the Integrity Commission to be investigated for any breach of the law.”
She said Finance Minister Larry Howai also would conduct a central audit of the projects. Persad-Bissessar said the integrity of the THA was now under question. She gave a chronological order of matters relating to the Tobago Aquatic Centre and Indoor Sporting Complex at Bacelot:
• A letter, dated January 16, 2012 was addressed Dear Sir/Madam from Adam’s Project Management and Construction Ltd, through its managing director, submitted an unsolicited tender offer of $149.8 million for the project
• Letter, dated January 25, 2012, addressed to Chief Secretary Orville London from Zoit Developers Ltd, submitted an unsolicited proposal of $223.5 million for the design and construction of the facility, lease of lands situated at Bacelot from the THA for the purpose and lease back of facilities to the THA for an 18-year term whereupon full title to the property would be transferred to the THA for a peppercorn rent.
Persad-Bissessar said she wanted to know how did either of those companies became aware t the centre was to be constructed to make their offers. The PM said a search of the Companies Registry on Zoit revealed:
• November 10, 2011, Mervyn Campbell applied for a name search and name reservation for “Zoit Developers Limited”.
• November 15 2011, Certificate of Incorporation of Zoit Developers Ltd as a company.
She said there was no evidence to suggest that proper procurement procedures were followed in the matter. She said there critical components of the arrangements were missing. Earlier, Persad-Bissessar said her Government was committed to giving the people of Tobago internal self-government soon.
She said the Government had completed its consultations on the Green Paper for internal self-government, which was chaired by political analyst Dr Hamid Ghany. She said the bill will be brought to Parliament in the current session “and be given strong priority.” She appealed to the Opposition to reconsider its decision not to support legislation which required special majority for approval.
Persad-Bissessar also said the legislation would be discussed in Cabinet today. Persad-Bissessar is expected to be in Tobago on Saturday for a post-budget rally. She said former attorney general Russell Martineau SC was in the process of drafting a Tobago Land Bill. She said the AG was also doing some work on that matter.
She added: “The sole aim of this law will be to regularise the issue of land title. This would enable Tobagonians to take advantage of their most precious and valuable asset so that they can achieve a better standard of living.”
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