Crude oil prices continued to linger near the US$80 per barrel level on which this country’s budget is based yesterday.
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Lalla gets hefty contracts
One company, Super Industrial Services Ltd (SIS), has accumulated over a half a billion dollars in lucrative Government contracts over the past four years. Its most recent contract—the $1.6 billion Beetham Water Recycling Plant project—tips the scales at the heftiest of all the contracts Government has awarded to this single company.
Company owner Krishna Lalla has been able to amass several Government contracts through state enterprises and government ministries without ever being called to account for what has been deemed his “good fortune with the Government” by one senior level employee. Both Lalla and his company have managed to escape much public scrutiny and have remained largely out of the public eye.
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has been spearheading the call for more transparency in the award of the contract, calling the contract a “rape of the treasury.” But the Sunday Guardian has tabulated that SISL has accumulated far more than that over the period of four years.
Lalla’s company, according to a senior level employee, has various subsidiaries, all tied to the same office. While SISL’s Web site lists just eight subsidiary companies, the Sunday Guardian learned Lalla is financially linked to more than twice that number, which has tendered for and has been awarded various contracts.
Lalla is also currently in a legal wrangle with former UNC chairman Jack Warner over a multi-million-dollar cash injection into then UNC leader Basdeo Panday’s political campaign in 2007. The matter reached to the Privy Council but was returned without judgment to the local High Court for deliberation. One of Warner’s attorney’s said Lalla contributed some $26 million to Panday’s campaign but when that bid failed, attempted to get back some of the money by saying it was a loan and not financial support.
It was in those court hearings that Lalla was linked to 18 local companies.
The eight subsidiary companies which have also enjoyed government contracts, among them Marshall Asphalt Pavers, Prime Equipment Rentals, Quality Refractory Insulation Services, Scaffolding Professionals, Phoenix Welding & Fabrication and Casa Contractors Ltd, were also tied to smaller private construction contracts.
It is through these two last subsidiaries that Lalla worked on the Prime Minister’s private residence in Philippines and Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) leader Ashworth Jack’s private residence in Tobago.
The company is far-reaching, even dabbling in security with the purchase of Executive Bodyguard Services Ltd (EBSL) for US$14 million last year. That company has also been favoured by the Government and was in the middle of a controversial contract to guard the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Attorney General’s office last year.
The Sunday Guardian learned that Lalla’s company was hired by the People’s National Movement (PNM) for work at the e-Teck project but was dismissed in 2006 after it “failed to meet contractual obligations” the senior staffer said. Work on the Couva Interchange, the senior staff member said, also had to be redone after the “asphalt failed.”
Head of the Programme for Upgrading Roads Efficiency (Pure) Hayden Phillips confirmed that the company had to revisit the site and do more work after it was delivered, but he said most contractors took advantage of a window (defects liability period) to do touch-ups on work already delivered. “It was after the defects liability period lapsed (three months), which is common,” he said.
• Ministry of Works and Infrastructure
• Education Facilities Company Ltd
• Ministry of Local Government
• National Insurance Property Development Company (Nipdec)
• Ministry of Education
• Ministry of Agriculture
• Palo Seco Agricultural Enterprise Ltd (PSAEL)
•Estate Management and Business Development Company (EMDB)
• Point Lisas Industrial Port Development Company (Plipdeco)
• Airports Authority of T&T
• Water and Sewerage Authority
• T&T Electricity Commission
• National Gas Company
• Ammonia, Urea, Melamine Plant
Sample of government contracts:
• 2012 Febeau Government Primary School—$18 million
• 2012 Shouter Baptist school —$28 million
• 2012 Couva Interchange —$70 million
• 2013 Disability Centre —$11.5 million
• 2013 Siparia Market —$56 million
• 2013 Motor Vehicle Authority
• 2014 Beetham Wastewater Treatment Facility—$1.6 billion.