Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal has admitted two changes were made to the contract between the National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco) and OAS Constructora just before the People’s National Movement Government took office in 2015.
However, he says these changes had nothing to do with OAS’ bankruptcy or the relinquishing of almost $1 billion in performance bonds, which the T&T Government now has to pay back to the Brazillian construction firm.
Holding up the arbitrary ruling from a London Arbitration Court, dated April 16, Moonilal yesterday blamed the Government for breaking the contract with OAS Constructora.
He contended that when the PNM took office, it stopped all payments to OAS, undermining its ability to complete the highway.
“This ruling is about wrongful termination of the contract. This has nothing to do with bankruptcy. Dr Rowley is raising an issue of an addendum to the contract. We can confirm it was not just one change. In fact, the (People’s) Partnership made two changes to that contract and those were done pursuant to monies owed to the contractor. This ruling has nothing to do with bankruptcy or Clause 15,” he said.
Moonilal also said OAS had never declared bankruptcy.
“They had what is called, in Brazilian law, was called judicial management but they continued to work in Trinidad. Subcontractors were working for them. Government refused to meet and treat and this 305-page ruling says you have to pay US$126 million, which is separate from legal fees,” he said.
Explaining the changes to the contract, Moonilal said: “There were changes made by Nidco relating to payments. OAS had legitimate claims for payment and because they had legitimate claims, the government kept the project at the same cost, so we changed the scope of the project. Those addendums had to do with that. It was to pay OAS money that we could not get from the Treasury, so we changed the scope of work.”
He denied that the People’s Partnership government had robbed citizens of almost $1 billion.
“This ruling is a damning condemnation of the mismanagement of Stuart (Young) and others from managing the highway. This speaks to a campaign of hate and malice and incompetence and corruption,” Moonilal said.
Accusing the Government of oppressing contractors, Moonilal also gave a breakdown of the debt that the Government was now owing to OAS.
“The Government has to pay an outstanding US$126 million. The majority of this is the performance and retention securities, which is $US93 million. This is the money that the Government stole. They grabbed this and stole it from OAS and said it was taxpayers’ money when, in fact, it was the performance bonds that they took. OAS took them to the London Court of Arbitration and now they have to pay other things. Contractor equipment lying idle here, you have to pay US$5 million for that. Materials and stock, US$5.2 million for that. Unpaid interim payment certificates, US$22 million. IPCs are payment certificates approved by AECOM,” he explained.
On Tuesday night, Dr Rowley said it was the former government that added an addendum to the OAS contract which opened up Nidco to liability in the matter and he called on the police to investigate who made the changes.
He said the September 4 removal of the clause by way of an addendum in the highway contract allowed OAS to go away with almost $1 billion.
“Today, because of that situation, the court gave us the money, but the arbitrator has now taken it back. And we now owe the contractor $852 million (the US$126 million),” he said.
He claimed this could only have occurred because the protection for people’s money was removed by the UNC on its last day in office before the 2015 election.