Last update: 08-Dec-2013 4:55 am
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Integrity body clears THA on two projects
The Integrity Commission has cleared the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) in two investigations which were raised by the People’s Partnership Government during the election campaign of the THA’s elections in January. One of the investigations relates to the proposed $250 million Bacolet Aquatic and Indoor Sports Complex while the other pertains to a community micro project programme which was initiated by the THA between May 2008 and July 2009.
The THA announced the commission’s decisions in the cases in a press release yesterday afternoon. In the release, the THA said its Chief Secretary Orville London was contacted recently by the commission’s registrar, Matin Farrell, who informed him the commission decided to terminate the investigation after it determined that there was insufficient grounds to continue. The decision to terminate the investigations was made under Section 34(6) of the Integrity in Public Life Act which states:
“Where during the course of an investigation, the commission is satisfied that there are insufficient grounds for continuing the investigation or that the complaint is frivolous, vexatious or not made in good faith, it may terminate the investigation.” The release also made special mention of the commission’s ongoing investigation into the $142 Milshirv Adminstration Complex in Shirvan, Tobago.
After issues on the project were raised by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan filed a judicial review challenging the THA’s decision to enter into a form of financing, known as Build, Own, Lease, Transfer (BOLT) for project. The THA’s release noted that in July, State attorneys were granted a consent order to convert the lawsuit into a statutory interpretation of the THA’s powers under the THA Act, Chap: 25:03.
The release quoted London, who spoke at post Executive Council media briefing, yesterday. London said the THA’s position on the issue was the same as in the amended lawsuit. He added: “All that had to be done was to ask the court for an interpretation of the law as had been done on five previous occasions, involving various central governments and the assembly. This was in that silly season and now things have settled down, good sense has prevailed and we await the decision of the court.”
London acknowledged that it was Ramlogan’s right to challenge the decision. However, he criticised Ramlogan for politicising the issue and for unreasonably “casting aspersions on the character and integrity of the individuals involved.” When contacted yesterday evening, Ramlogan described London’s comments as highly improper. He said the Milshirv matter was before the courts and should not be commented on.
“He is irresponsible and absurd in his rush to score cheap political points at the expense of the respect for the adminstration of justice,” Ramlogan added. He explained the Milshirv lawsuit included two third parties—State-owned bank First Citizen, who financed the project, and the developer Milshirv Properties Limited. He said after the lawsuit was amended after both third parties submitted that they should not have been included as they were not part of the decision-making process.
“There is no reason for him to howl and beat his chest on this matter that is awaiting judicial pronouncement,” Ramlogan said.
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