Neither Canada nor the T&T Government is accepting responsibility for the selection of the company scheduled to build the Penal hospital.The T&T Guardian has been trying to find out why the Canadian conglomerate SNC-Lavalin was given the contract to build the hospital although it is embroiled in bribery allegations.
However, political counsellor at the High Commission of Canada, Laurent Morel-�-l'Huissier, said all matters relating to the tendering and selection process of the hospital and rehabilitation centre should be directed to the T&T Government.The multimillion-dollar hospital is to be built at Clarke Road, Penal.In his e-mail response, Morel-�-l'Huissier said: "On May 1, 2012, the governments of Canada and T&T signed a framework arrangement to expand co-operation between our two countries with regard to the healthcare sector."
On why SNC-Lavalin was chosen, Morel-�-l'Huissier said: "We ask that for questions on the tendering and selection process, that you please contact the Government of T&T."But in a telephone interview yesterday, CEO of the Urban Development Corporation of T&T (Udecott) Kurt Ramlal said Morel-�-l'Huissier must be mistaken."I think all questions that relate to the contract must be directed to the Canadian government because we had no control at all on the tendering or selection of this contract," Ramlal said.
In an earlier statement, Ramlal had said payment terms had not been finalised as tenets were still being negotiated.Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal, under whose portfolio Udecott falls, referred questions to Ramlal. He did not respond to text messages on whether the T&T Government would be renegotiating the contract with the Canadian authorities. Neither did Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
The Penal hospital and rehabilitation centre is the brainchild of Persad-Bissessar, who announced in 2012 that the newly-built hospital would provide state-of-the-art care for people suffering from non-communicable diseases.
In her address at that time, Persad-Bissessar said: "Our vision is for a hospital which caters for all matters relating to non-communicable diseases like hypertension and diabetes. There is no point that every hospital be equipped and staffed to cater for everything in the world, when the specialist areas are left out."
In April this year, the World Bank imposed a ten-year ban on SNC-Lavalin Inc, a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin and its affiliates. The company may not bid on projects funded by the bank because of a scandal over multimillion-dollar bribes.A joint investigation by CBC News and Toronto's Globe and Mail found a division of SNC-Lavalin had been using a secret internal accounting code for bribes on projects across Africa and Asia for years.
Former CEO Pierre Duhaime and another former top executive, Riadh Ben Aissa, are both facing charges arising from a contract involving the building of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), Canada.Duhaime stepped down in March 2012 after an independent review showed he signed off on Can$56 million in payments to undisclosed agents.Ben Aissa was arrested in April 2012 in Switzerland and is also facing charges relating to alleged corruption, fraud and money laundering in North Africa.