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JSC meets today on ferry procurements

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Questions about Government’s procurement of the Galleons Passage will not delay submission of a draft report of Parliament’s Joint Select Committee (JSC) on Land and Rural Development on procurement of the Ocean Flower 2 and Cabo Star last year.

Chairman Independent Senator Stephen Creese said the JSC will meet this morning to go through the draft report.

“As soon as we agree on it, we will lay it before the Parliament,” he said.

Creese said nothing that has occurred since the Committee last met in September 2017 should delay the report. However, another JSC member said there are two reasons why the draft report could be delayed. One has to do with the report submitted by businessman Christian Mouttet, the sole investigator appointed by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to look at the acquisition of the vessels, and the “compendium of documents which he submitted without reading them to the Committee.”

Reports are that Mouttet did not come to any conclusion but just interviewed people and recorded what they said.

“It was a compilation of interviews that he conducted. It is now up to us to go through that to determine whether there is need to extend the inquiry based on what we discerned from that report, or whether it will stretch the inquiry too long and frustrate people,” the JSC member said.

There is also concern about the procurement of the Galleons Passage which was purchased by the government for US$17.4 million. Creese said any investigation its procurement should not delay the JSC’s report.

“We can deal with that separately. Remember this is a standing committee and we are free to investigate any other matter,” said Creese who added that he is aware of public concerns about procurement of the Galleons Passage

The JSC chaired by Creese includes five members of the ruling Peoples National Movement and two members of the Opposition United National Congress. No timeline has been set for submission of the draft report to the Parliament, since today’s talks are open to discussion and decision.

Adding his voice to concerns about the purchase of the Galleons Passage is chairman of the Eric Williams Memorial Committee Reginald Vidale

“While I can appreciate and understand the urgency of purchasing a ferry be it used or new, going ahead and purchasing the ferry in the absence of consultations is a gross disrespect which should not be tolerated,” he said.

Former transport minister Devant Maharaj has twice written to Chairman of the Integrity Commission Justice Melville Baird calling for an investigation into the procurement process used for the purchase of the vessel. He claims statements by Finance Minister Colm Imbert on the issue left more questions than answers.


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