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Kamla halts Tobago projects

PORT OF SPAIN — Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has called for two multi-million-dollar Tobago projects to be halted and has requested that a probe be conducted into questionable dealings of the Tobago House of Assembly led by Chief Secretary Orville London.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar speaks during the budget debate in Parliament yesterday.

In her contribution to the budget debate at yesterday’s Parliament sitting, Persad-Bissessar raised questions with respect to the $250 million Bacolet aquatic centre and indoor sport complex and the $143 million Milshirv THA Administration Complex.

“I am suggesting first of all that the projects – Milshirv and the projects with respect to the aquatic centre – be halted, pending proper clarification and investigation. Secondly, the matters be referred to the Attorney General, the DPP and the Integrity Commission to be investigated,” said Persad-Bissessar.

Central audit

She also disclosed that she has asked that the finance minister conduct a central audit on these projects.

Persad-Bissessar spent most of her contribution on the THA, which she said negotiated arrangements for these projects through a Build, Own, Lease, Transfer process – in contravention of the THA Act.

She said the Act states that approvals must be granted by the Finance Minister before the THA borrows sums by way of term loans for the purpose of capital investment.

“At a minimum this would be against the spirit of the act, and at maximum a breach of the law,” said Persad-Bissessar.

She then went into detail to show that companies which were recently incorporated were beneficiaries of multi-million-dollar contracts within months.

With respect to the aquatic centre, Persad-Bissessar noted that letters of proposal were sent to the THA in January 2012 from two companies – Adam’s Project Management and Construction Ltd for $149,873,456; and Zoit Developers Ltd for $233,549,949.

The Prime Minister questioned how these companies came to know this aquatic centre was to be constructed and whether there were requests for proposals or a tendering process. (Express)

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