The Canadian Commercial Corporation is to issue a statement on the controversial contract given to troubled Canadian firm SNC Lavalin to design and build the $ 1 billion Penal children's hospital and rehabilitation centre, Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal said Thursday.He was responding to an article written by Patricia Adams, executive director of Probe International, which was published in the Huffington Post last week.
The article quoted the CCC as saying that T&T was not getting any preferential conditions in the construction of the project.Moonilal initially defended the People's Partnership's decision to build the hospital using a government-to-government loan granted by the Canadian authorities.Contacted Thursday, Moonilal said he was in touch with the CCC and a statement was expected to be issued by the organisation to clarify the matter. He did not disclose any details of the preferential conditions T&T would enjoy if the project went ahead.
However when contacted at 5 pm Thursday, Moonilal said he was still awaiting for the CCC's statement.Since the Guardian reported exclusively that SNC Lavalin got the contract to design the hospital, several groups including the Joint Consultative Council for the construction industry and the Local Content Chamber have called for full disclosure on the contract.Calls were also made about the alleged involvement of T&T's High Commissioner to Canada, Philip Buxo, in the deal.
Before his diplomatic appointment, Buxo held the position of Director of the Caricom (Caribbean Community and Common Market) Region Energy and Infrastructure Division of SNC-Lavalin.However, he has denied any involvement in the selection process, saying: "The T&T Government is not involved in the decision-making process to hire any Canadian company to construct the hospital. The full responsibility for the selection of any company is the exclusive responsibility of the Canadian government's designated co-ordinator, the CCC."
SNC-Lavalin and many of its top executives are accused of corruption in Canada, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. In April, the World Bank debarred the company from bank-funded projects for ten years.In a statement last month, president and CEO of the CCC, Marc Whittingham, said the T&T Government had signed a contract in February with SNC-Lavalin to design the Penal hospital, on the recommendation of the CCC.
Whittingham said a framework agreement was signed between the governments of Canada and T&T on May 1, 2012, to promote co-operation in the health sector.He explained that in early 2012, CCC and Udecott decided to split the work into two phases: The design of the hospital and the construction and installation of medical equipment.
He said the design phase was almost completed and Udecott and CCC were now working on a contract for phase two. However, a due diligence review is now in progress to decide whether SNC-Lavalin will get the second part of the contract.