Further questions arose yesterday on the $40 million NP contract issue following an advertisement in which bidder Gopaul and Company Ltd (GCL) alluded to a "winning bid" and stated NP had communicated with it on a split contract with another bidder. The ad by GCL also indicated it had agreed to NP's split contract suggestion while its competitor objected. A high level Government official said it had been ascertained last week that no contract had been awarded in the controversial issue but NP's board "had taken a decision on the contract." GCL's ad has raised queries since NP, in a recent release, stated it had not communicated with any of the parties on the outcome of the issue.
Energy Minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan and Minister Roodal Moonilal are on record as saying no contract has been awarded. But Martin George, attorney for CDS, another bidder in the issue, said he was sending a letter to NP on the GCL ad in light of its contents. George added: "Gopaul's ad speaks of a 'winning bid' and NP had said no bidder had been contacted about the outcome of the tender process. "Also, the indication from GCL's ad is that that company seems to hint it knows it has won and the Prime Minister's recent statement on the issue earlier in the week, in saying that it appears GCL had won, also seems to hint it has won. So these two parties seem to know GCL has gotten through." George added: "Their language also seems to be the same So there appears to be 'consensuality' of the information between GCL's statement and the Prime Minister's, in that the latter recently spoke of 'winning the bid' and GCL has now spoken of a 'winning bid'.
"It is even more troubling since NP's statement says no bidder was contacted on the outcome. The statements in the ad deepens the perceived links between the alleged parties." George also noted GCL's ad had alluded to the fact that GCL was communicated with by NP in which it was asked to accept a split contract with another bidder. George added GCL's ad stated it had agreed to the situation and "our competitor had objected." Citing breach of confidentiality, George queried how GCL might have gotten such information and if that was from NP's side. NP public relations officer Annalisa Allen-Bejamin said yesterday the company stood by its release that no communication had been issued to any bidder regarding the outcome of the tender process and that no award had been made. Another NP official said any communication that passed between the company and parties might have been "part of the process."
When contacted about the contents of the ad, Ralph Gopaul said he was busy at the moment and to call back. George also commented on Seepersad-Bachan's decision to recuse herself from the on-going probe on the contract. Seepersad-Bachan decided to do so since her brother, Curtis, rents Pt Lisas land for his transport company from CDS, the other bidder in the NP contract. George said Seepersad-Bachan's situation was a "tenuous" link and would not affect the process. Submission of the report from the probe is expected by the Attorney General's office Tuesday.