Who owns FASTEC—the company which is benefiting from a million-dollar contract from Lake Asphalt to supply hardboard?
The Express contacted FASTEC yesterday by phone, which is located in Papourie Road, Barrackpore, and an employee refused to divulge the name of the owner of the company.
Opposition MP Fitzgerald Jeffrey during the budget debate on Tuesday claimed that FASTEC, owned by a relative to a senior Cabinet minister, was awarded a contract to supply hardboard to Lake Asphalt—at a higher cost than from the original supplier—Pegasus from Brazil.
Jeffrey also claimed the quality of the hardboard from FASTEC was inferior to that of Pegasus.
The Express conducted a search of the companies registry and found that the directors of FASTEC are Balvant Nathu-Hari and Angeline Nathu-Hari whose occupations were listed as directors of N & A Holdings Ltd.
In his budget contribution on Tuesday, Jeffrey said there is a scandal at Lake Asphalt which warrants urgent attention.
Lake Asphalt, he said, was importing hardboard from Pegasus for the past five years.
"Early this year, the chairman of the board who it is said is a close relative to a senior Cabinet minister, and is said to be a close friend of the Prime Minister, authorised the board and the CEO to stop importing the hardboard from Pegasus in Brazil and instead purchase the hardboard from a company called FASTEC, that is owned by a close relative of another minister in Government," said Jeffrey.
He said the cost of the hardboard from FASTEC is twice as much as the hardboard from Pegasus and the quality at FASTEC is inferior to the hardboard that is coming from Brazil.
"As a matter of fact, FASTEC hardboard has a 20 per cent rejection rate because the strength of the board is inadequate and difficult to work with," he said.
Jeffrey said that earlier this year, the company spent $1 million extra to import hardboard from FASTEC than they would have had to pay if they had imported from Brazil.
In addition, he said, the company had to pay an additional $300,000 to produce the drums.
"What is more staggering is that the chairman has ordered the CEO and the board to double the importation from FASTEC. So that it is going to cost Lake Asphalt $2 million extra to import the hardboard, and $500,000 extra in production cost. That is a cause for concern," said Jeffrey.
Efforts to contact Lake Asphalt chairman Kuarlal Rampersad proved futile.