After weeks of maneuvering by the Canadian government to secure a lucrative contract in Trinidad and Tobago for graft-tainted engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, the government of that Caribbean nation has announced that it isn’t interested in dealing with a company that has “difficulty in passing the test of confidence.”
According to Trinidad and Tobago’s Guardian newspaper, the government announced yesterday that it was pulling out of a planned arrangement with the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) to have SNC-Lavalin build a $163-million hospital. This followed a meeting with Canadian High Commissioner Gérard Latulippe and a delegation from the CCC, a Canadian Crown corporation which had been arranging the contract. CCC flew in its vice president of strategy and organizational development Mariette Fyfe-Fortin and regional director Luc Allary for the meeting.
The T&T government, as well as opposition lawmakers, had asked why they should hire SNC-Lavalin given the growing list of charges against the Montreal-based company for corruption both in Canada and abroad. Opposition member Colm Imbert had recently filed a motion in parliament to fire SNC-Lavalin.
According to the Guardian, the Canadian delegation believes that SNC-Lavalin has mended its ways. They presented a due diligence review to prove it and encouraged the T&T government to enter into a contract with SNC-Lavalin to build the hospital.
“They told us that [SNC-Lavalin] had developed enhanced management standards, ethics in governance as well as improved compliance, governance, quality, health and safety standards,” said Jearlean John, the chairman of the Urban Development Corporation (UDeCOTT) – the developer that would be responsible for the hospital project.
Apparently those assurances were not enough for Housing Minister Dr. Roodal Moonilal, who was also present at the meeting. Signing a contract with SNC-Lavalin could harm T&T’s international reputation, he argued.
“I feel that there is public concern and lack of confidence in the contractor [SNC-Lavalin] and the position of T&T’s reputation. All projects, especially government-to-government arrangements, must bring confidence in public interest.”
For that reason, he said, “after a discussion, we invited the CCC to nominate another contractor.”
Opposition MP Imbert — who has been an outspoken critic of the deal — said it has been obvious for months that SNC-Lavalin was “unsuitable” to build the hospital, as the company has been accused of “bribing politicians and public officials in developing countries.”
“It would have been a terrible thing for T&T if we were exposed to this kind of behaviour,” he said.
Imbert is also upset by the suggestion that Trinidad and Tobago should ask CCC to nominate another contractor. “Do we not have a say in the procurement process?” he asked.
The Canadian government should take note: both Dr. Moonilal and Mr. Imbert make good points….READ MORE