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Jack mum on cancellation of three OPVs
National Security Minister Jack Warner yesterday confirmed that Cabinet held discussions on the cancellation of three offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) but refused to divulge any further details. He said he was unwilling to comment because the matter was still under arbitration.
The Sunday Guardian reported that Attorney General Anand Ramlogan took a note to Cabinet last Thursday, requesting approval for $1.3 billion to settle the matter which remained in arbitration.
Speaking with reporters following the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Annual Interfaith Service at the Church of the Assumption, Maraval, Warner said: “On Thursday, we discussed the fact that the matter is still under arbitration and as such, because it is still under arbitration, I don't think it is prudent for any member of Cabinet to speak about it.”
It was reported that at least three ministers voiced concerns, questioning the haste and timing of the Attorney General’s request on Thursday. The report also claimed that Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran walked out of the Cabinet meeting, which he chaired in the absence of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Asked if he was one of the ministers who had objected to it, Warner said: “I was not but even if I were one of the ministers, I would not have said so because Cabinet discussions are normally and should normally be private and confidential. The matter is still not settled and as Minister of National Security under whose portfolio that comes, and because it is still under arbitration, as soon as that is concluded, the public will be apprised.”
The $1.5 billion OPV contract was signed by the former administration in April 2007 and a cancellation notice was filed by the People’s Partnership on September 17, 2010. The cancellation allegedly arose out of persistent delays and technical deficiencies, even after coastguard officers had been sent to Scotland for training in the use and operation of the vessels.
Pressed about the cost yesterday, Warner replied: “The matter is still under arbitration and not concluded so I don't know how you could get a figure of $1.3 billion when the matter is still a work in progress and as such, it would not be correct to say if that figure is not correct.”
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