Once again, Commonwealth Caribbean countries are under attack as “tax havens,” even though they are nothing of the sort. This time, it is not only the usual countries that have been listed.
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Rowley: Water recyling plant is billion-dollar rape on Treasury
Opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley is calling on President Anthony Carmona to demand an explanation from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on an alleged billion-dollar rape on the Treasury via the proposed construction of the Beetham Water Recycling Plant (WRP). He made the appeal during a news conference yesterday. He also called on Persad-Bissessar “to stop this contract and if this water treatment plant is to be built, that a proper tendering process be entered into.” Rowley also said he was calling on the Independent Senators “to stand up in the Parliament and point out the failures of the Government.”
He said he was going to take the matter to Parliament for debate via a private motion, saying: “The people of T&T are not defenceless.” Rowley said all the documents would be made available to Carmona and he was confident the President “will ask of the Prime Minister explanations for this rape of our Treasury.” He also intends to write to the World Bank, the IMF, IDB, CDB and Caricom to complain about “the behaviour of this corrupt Government, which has made a career of raping the Treasury of T&T.” Rowley said he was also calling on the trade unions, the co-operative movement, the IRO, the Transparency Institute and all citizens “to stand up and object to the rape of our Treasury by a small, privileged group of people.”
Bids rigged, says Rowley
Rowley alleged that a contract for the construction of the plant was to be awarded soon to the firm Super Industrial Services Ltd, whose bid price was $400 million more than the other bidder. Rowley said a list of 16 bidders were reduced to two companies, SIS and Atlatec. Rowley said the bidding process was conducted in such a way as to “drive away” the other 14 bidders, many of which were more experienced than SIS. “And when we are left with two (bidders) we ignore the fact that one major company could do the job $400 million cheaper than the other contractor.”
The project was initially proposed under WASA but was subsequently transferred to the NGC, Rowley said, and during the just concluded Carnival celebrations WASA and the NGC started an advertisement campaign to promote the project.
He added: “What in effect they were doing was providing vaseline for the public acceptance of this, conditioning us that something good was being done on the public’s behalf. “Instead what was happening here was one of the most cynical action of the public rape of a treasury anywhere in the Commonwealth.” He said it had started since the Environment and Water Resources Minister Ganga Singh was CEO at WASA in 2010. WASA first tendered for the project in June 2012 and NGC was brought on board a year later to handle the project. The project, Rowley said, was evaluated in such a way to cause the taxpayers to pay $400 million more to SIS. The press conference was held at the Opposition meeting room, Tower D, Waterfront Complex, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain, because Rowley’s office on Charles Street had no air-conditioning yesterday.
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