Last update: 04-Dec-2013 10:40 pm
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Diego Martin West MP Colm Imbert has filed a motion in Parliament calling on the Government to terminate all existing contracts with corruption-tainted Canadian firm SNC-Lavalin. His call came five months after the company and 100 of its affiliates were banned from bidding on contracts funded by the World Bank. Imbert’s motion was scheduled for Friday’s sitting of the House of Representatives but was postponed as debate continues into the 2013-2014 fiscal budget.
In his motion, quoted from Order Papers in the parliamentary Web site, Imbert said the Urban Development Corporation of T&T (Udecott) on the recommendation of the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC), signed a contract in February 2013 with SNC-Lavalin to design a hospital in Penal. “The CCC has also confirmed that the design contract for this hospital project was awarded by Udecott to SNC-Lavalin, on the recommendation of CCC, on a sole selective basis without any competitive tendering,” Imbert said.
He noted that construction of the hospital will cost taxpayers $1 billion. Saying “SNC-Lavalin is presently embroiled in allegations and findings of irregular payments to public officials, misconduct, corruption and bribery in projects in a number of developing countries,” Imbert called on the Government to terminate all existing contracts. “Government should also cease and desist from entering into any future contractual relationships with SNC-Lavalin or any of its affiliates,” he added.
He also recommended that “procurement process for the project as well as future projects should be subject to open and transparent competitive tendering.” In a subsequent interview, Imbert also questioned why the due diligence review on SNC-Lavalin was taking so long.
“I think they are playing games. Somebody within the CCC is obviously compromised because why else will they give a banned company the contract?” He added, “It is well known that SNC has been banned by the Canadian International Development Agency CIDA and the World Bank.”
Imbert noted, “It is very curious that the T&T High Commissioner to Canada Philip Buxo was a director for SNC-Lavalin and as soon as he was appointed to Canada, SNC gets its contract. The whole thing is very strange. I want to know why the Government doesn’t terminate this agreement.” He added that the contract did not provide any special rates to T&T.
“It doesn’t appear that we are getting any special deal. We are getting it on commercial terms, there are no concessionary rates, no special price, and it is done without competitive tendering so there is no proper way of establishing value for money. It is a disgrace, and I wish they will get it over with and terminate all arrangements with that company,” Imbert said.
Moonilal: Govt will deal with it when it arises
Contacted on his cell phone, Moonilal said the Government will deal with the motion when it arises. “Quite a lot has already been said about the SNC-Lavalin issue but we are prepared to deal with this motion in great detail when it is brought to Parliament.” The minister, who is in charge of Udecott, said a due diligence review on the company was still ongoing. The report was initially expected to be completed at the end of August, but Moonilal said the CCC had requested a further two weeks to complete its review.
He admitted that the Government had grave concerns about SNC-Lavalin’s track record and current status. However, he said once the due diligence review is completed, the Government will make a decision on SNC-Lavalin. Last month, president and CEO of the CCC Marc Whittington denied that the T&T Government was not getting competitive rates in the $2.2 million hospital design contract with SNC-Lavalin.
He said the CCC was assessing SNC’s financial, managerial and technical abilities as well as its Corporate Social Responsibility capabilities to determine whether it is eligible for the contract. This due diligence review is expected to be completed by next week.
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