Enough for all
PORT OF SPAIN — Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has defended contracts awarded by the Government to companies affiliated with the People’s Partnership.
The AG was responding to a Sunday Express story in which a $232.5 million contract for a Motor Vehicle Authority was awarded to Super Industrial Services, the contractor linked to the completion of construction of the homes of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and former minority leader of the Tobago House of Assembly, Ashworth Jack.
SIS was the contractor behind the $45 million Siparia Market and the $70 million Couva/Preysal Interchange. SIS has also benefitted from Programme for Upgrading Roads Efficiency contracts awarded by Nipdec on behalf of the Ministry of Works.
“The large majority of contracts awarded has not necessarily changed hands, whether it is prisoner transport, construction, or financial consulting. But the issue of who contracts are awarded to must be seen as a power play by desperate commercial interests that are seeking to protect and preserve their monopoly on lucrative work in the State sector.
“This group is seeking to shut out small players and newcomers to protect their turf. You hear no complaint when they get a contract but you hear a cacophony when anyone outside their circle gets anything,” Ramlogan said in a telephone interview yesterday.
When the question was posed to the AG about the extent of SIS owner Krishna Lalla’s power and influence in the People’s Partnership, he admitted that “that talk has been around”.
“But the talk has also been around that a group of Port of Spain businessmen from a certain community financed the People’s National Movement campaign in Tobago and in the last general election. No one expressed concern when they received contracts from the PNM and continue to receive contracts from this Government,” Ramlogan said.
The Attorney General added: “The constitution gives each citizen and corporate citizen the right to freedom of association and freedom of political affiliation and expression. So companies are free to support political parties, but that is not a ground for discrimination because that will expose the State to litigation. The focus must be on the process and the process must be fair and transparent, that you cannot discriminate based on political bias and perception.” (Express)