Attorney General, Anand Ramlogan, said an investigation is under way to determine how the former People's National Movement (PNM) government was prepared to spend more than $1 billion on the multi-billion dollar Broadgate Place project in Port-of-Spain–a project it will not own. Speaking at a United National Congress (UNC) Local Government elections meeting in St Augustine on Friday night, Ramlogan read from documents submitted by State lawyers expressing concerns at the State's input into the project. Ramlogan saw it as nothing short of a scandal where more than one billion dollars was going to be spent on a project with the Government getting nothing in return. The Broadgate project is a 26-storey building bordering Henry Street, Broadway and South Quay.
Ramlogan commended two State lawyers–Karen Boodan from the Solicitor General's department, and Sharon Morris-Cummings, head of Legal Services Division, Ministry of Public Administration, for their intervention in this matter. Cummings had some reservations about the Broadgate Place project, Ramlogan added. She recommended that a financial specialist be engaged to assess the entire project with a view to assessing the State's financial exposure in this matter "in light of the fact that there was no accounting mechanism for the monies already disbursed to Broadgate, not any accounting mechanisms for future disbursements."
Cummings, in her note dated May 19, continued: "My requests to have this matter re-negotiated have fallen on deaf ears, particularly that of the Hon Minister who was not pleased with the recommendation to have an expert re-evaluate this project before Cabinet makes a decision on whether or not to proceed further, or not with the project." She added, "It appears to me that the wording of the note does not put the issues fully before Cabinet as it appears to give the impression that all is well with this project. Nothing can be further from the truth and the comments on record in various memoranda from the Chief State Solicitor and the Solicitor General bear this out."
Cummings said re-negotiation would have offered the opportunity to put this matter on a footing where the State's interest would be protected. "Should this project be proceeded with in its present form, the State is committing to spending over a billion dollars for a development that it would not own." Cummings added: "I cannot sit idly by in good conscience and allow Cabinet to be misled and the State to be put at further disadvantage, when it is in the power of right thinking men and women to do otherwise."
About the Broadgate Project
The Broadgate Place project is a 26-storey building opposite City Gate Transport Hub in Port-of-Spain, specifically located at Nos 3 and 5 Henry Street, 6, 8 and 10 Broadway and 56, 58 and 60 South Quay, Port-of-Spain. It is designed to comprise a 26-storey office tower consisting of two floors of retail stores including a food court, two floors of parking and 22 floors of office space, with the fifth to 26th floor being leased to the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (GORTT).
The project is being executed by the Broadgate Place Property Company Ltd (BPPCL), a subsidiary of the Transcorp Development Company Ltd (TDCL). The Design/Build Contractors are the Bouygues Batiment Trinidad and Tobago Ltd (BBTTCC) and Project Managers', Turner Alpha Ltd. The project?was expected to start in early 2010 and shall be completed over a period of 36 months, with a projected handover date in December 2012 for occupation of the same.