Moonilal to write to Integrity Commission on $100 million CCTV cameras

I intend to write to the Integrity Commission and Procurement Regulator Moonilal Lalchan this week with a request to investigate the procurement process used by the Ministry of National Security with respect to of the $100 million Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) network.

I will request that independent institutions undertake separate vigorous investigations and take appropriate action if there are any breaches of the relevant law.

I also intend to raise the matter at the next meeting of the Joint Select Committee (JSC) on National Security at Parliament, with a request for an urgent and full enquiry.

The courses of action are being undertaken because of the flippant dismissal by the Government of firm allegations of bid rigging in the costly purchase.

I discussed the critical issue in detail in the House of Representatives last Friday, and revealed compelling and convincing facts that appear to show a London-based company receiving preferential treatment.

A review of the factual matrix of the tendering process lead to the inescapable conclusion that there were gross irregularities.

It is clear that the tendering procedure was irretrievably compromised, where one company did not submit proposals on time and an extension was granted to facilitate one bidder.

This is a major breach of the public sector tendering process.

The Government’s response to the important matter was a flippant dismissal by Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh, who is far removed from the procurement matter.

The fact that Mr. Deyalsingh was detailed to respond to this $100 million matter – and the Minister’s dismissive reply – it is clear that the Government does not intend with this crucial issue of alleged wrongdoing with the public’s purse.

As a result, I will write to the Integrity Commission and Procurement Regulator, with the confident expectations of an urgent and independent enquiry.

I will also bring the matter to the attention of the JSC on National Security, which, I anticipate, will hold public hearings on the matter.

The apparent breach of the procurement process and the Government’s frivolous response are typical of an administration which continues to play fast-and-loose with taxpayers’ money.

The alleged wrongdoing with respect to $100 million must not be permitted to escape without independent scrutiny and, if necessary, appropriate legal action.

Padarath: PNM rewards the promotion of political filth with taxpayers’ $$$

Princes Town MP, Barry Padarath is taking Minister Robert Le Hunte to task for what he describes as rewarding the promotion of political filth with taxpayers’ money. The comment stemmed from Le Hunte’s justification for hiring PNM activist Darrel Dookoo as part of a social media campaign for the Ministry of Public Utilities.

Padarath slammed Le Hunte’s justification for hiring Dookoo, saying that while Dookoo has a right to his own political persuasion, he uses the medium of social media as well as other platforms to openly incite racism, prejudice, violence and bigotry in a vile and profane manner.

The Princes Town MP called on Minister Le Hunte, who is also the Vice Chairman of the PNM to say whether his Party supports the views expressed by Dookoo in several videos, expressing hate speech, bigotry, racism, slander and defamation against political opponents. He also called on Le Hunte to say whether the Ministry of Public Utilities see nothing wrong with promoting an individual to the national community, who has neither the moral or ethical principles and values to be a spokesperson for the Ministry.

The MP noted that Dookoo’s services have been utilized by another Ministry and this blatant abuse of taxpayers’ dollars to reward party hats is a flagrant disregard of good governance.

Padarath said the abusive, vile, violent and nasty comments of Dookoo have been properly archived and will be sent to Minister Le Hunte, who claims ignorance of Dookoo’s conduct.

He further called on the Ministry to withdraw the advertisement and apologize to the national community for imposing someone who is a symbol of profanity, hate and prejudice on the nation. Failure to do anything otherwise would confirm that the PNM and Minister Le Hunte endorses every comment and position espoused by Dookoo.

Padarath added that while respectable, qualified and decent citizens were being fired from state companies under the guise of lack of funding, the Minister and Vice Chairman of the PNM unashamedly defends the indefensible by openly politicking with taxpayers’ money by hiring Dookoo.

Ramona: Has the Tobago Sandals Project Collapsed?

The Prime Minister’s statements on the Tobago Sandals project suggested that it may be off the table as his reference to it was in past tense and even identified the Tobago people as being against the project.

During Thursday’s “Conversations with the Prime Minister”, the Prime Minister inferred that Tobago Sandals may never happen via his statement of being tempted to speak of the Sandals project in past tense.

Major issues faced by the Sandals project include environmental concerns of the site (No Man’s Land), the model of design and construction and the amount of taxpayer’s monies to be invested.
For three years the opposition has kept on the backs of the PNM government, asking all the right questions in the name of accountability, transparency and integrity with little or no feedback from the government.

MP Ramona Ramdial has therefore asked the Prime Minister the following questions on behalf of the people of Trinidad and Tobago:
Have negotiations on the Tobago Sandals project collapsed?
What are the reasons for the breakdown in negotiations?
What are the costs incurred by T& T government for three years of negotiations with Sandals International?
What are the alternative plans for Tobago tourism?

Kamla offers condolences on passing of former EBC Chairman Dr Norbert Masson

Political Leader of the United National Congress and Leader of the Opposition the Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar has offered condolences to the family, and friends of the late Dr Norbert Masson, former chairman of the Elections and Boundaries Commission.

In a statement the UNC Leader noted that Dr Masson had a long and distinguished career in the public service and carried out his duties as Chairman of the EBC faithfully for almost three decades.

Trinidad and Tobago has suffered a loss, and Dr Masson’s important contributions to the our country should be recognized by all citizens.

On behalf of the United National Congress I extend condolences to Dr Masson’s friends and family.

Ramona Budget 2019: THA gets $196.4 million increase for new fiscal year

MP Ramdial in her budget contribution yesterday in the lower house made the following comments:

  • There has been an increase by $196.4 million for recurrent expenditure for the THA for fiscal 2018-2019. This clearly indicates the hypocrisy of the Minister of Finance as he clearly stated that expenditure was cut across the board for all ministries. Most of the increased expenditures were for office space rental/lease, storage space rental/lease, contract employment, vehicles, security services, janitorial services.
  • In addition the MP noted the continuous funding for festivals in the sum of $25 million. This includes the Tobago Jazz Festival and the Tobago Heritage Festival which generate little or no revenue for the Tobago people. The MP suggested again that the hosting of these festivals be put into the hands of the private sector to be run as a business venture to generate revenues and not be used as largesse to PNM supporters and friends.
  • The issue of a failed air and sea bridge was also raised as the MP expressed the concern that the Tobago people wanted a fast ferry and not the Galleons Passage which took 4.5 hours to Tobago in its maiden voyage yesterday.
  • The MP asked about the bailout for the hotel owners of Tobago who were on the verge of losing properties to the banks as the Tourism sector had totally collapsed on the island resulting in loss of business.
  • The MP urged the Minister of Tourism to engage in an aggressive marketing campaign to ensure an increase in tourist arrivals. She however flagged reduced funding to the Ministry will not be able to see this happen.
  • She raised the issue of Petrotrin and the mass unemployment of 5000 workers. She also raised the issue of government sensationalising abuse of overtime by Petrotrin workers resulting in overtime packages up to $45,000.
  • Ramdial noted that UNC constituencies were being discriminated against as resources were being allocated to PNM constituencies but not to UNC areas