...Moonilal, UDeCOTT to decide next step for Penal Hospital
THE board of the Urban Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCoTT) will meet with its line minister Dr Roodal Moonilal early this week to determine the next step for the construction of the Penal Hospital, chairman Jearlean John said yesterday.
On Friday in Parliament Moonilal announced that, on Thursday, Cabinet took a decision to bid controversial Canadian construction firm SNC-Lavalin “au revoir” and terminated all contractual arrangements.
SNC-Lavalin had been chosen by the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) as the preferred contractor to construct the billion-dollar Penal Hospital, despite the firm being slapped with a ten-year ban from the World Bank for corrupt practices.
The Penal Hospital was to be constructed through a government-to-government arrangement, with the CCC facilitating the Canadians and UDeCoTT, the local side.
On Tuesday, UDeCoTT and Moonilal met with a Canadian delegation, including the CCC, who produced a due diligence report supporting their choice of SNC-Lavalin, saying the company met its standards for corporate governance and ethics.
Moonilal nonetheless requested the CCC choose another contractor, which they declined.
John said on Wednesday, she wrote to the CCC and intimated to them that Dr Moonilal would be presenting in Parliament on Friday after Cabinet made a decision on whether or not it should terminate the contracts.
SNC-Lavalin had already been awarded a $2.2 million design contract for the hospital, and was in negotiations to finalise the construction contract.
“I wrote to (the CCC) on the basis that we are going to move depending on the decision Cabinet makes on Thursday. They wrote to us on Friday that they were willing to consider working with another contractor.
Cabinet made its decision and we will confirm it further when we talk to Dr Moonilal, maybe on Monday or Tuesday,” John said.
In an e-mail response to the Express on Saturday, Canadian High Commissioner Gerard Latulippe said:
“The government of Canada values the long-term relationship that has developed between Canada and Trinidad and Tobago since its Independence in 1962, in a broad range of areas, including education, security, justice and trade and investment.
“This includes our bilateral agreements with Trinidad and Tobago such as the Framework Agreement in the Health Sector signed in May 2012, aiming at enhancing our bilateral relationships by partnering with Trinidad and Tobago in assisting the modernisation and expansion of their existing healthcare facilities to provide mutual benefits to the people of both our countries”.
It was through this framework that the government-to-government arrangement that the construction of the Penal Hospital was facilitated.