“Another fraud”, without the proper qualifications for the job!
That’s how PNM Senator Lester Henry described Dayanand Birju, former acting airport general manager, during the budget debate in the Senate yesterday.
Henry referred to an exclusive Express report published on Thursday which stated that Birju had resigned. Henry said while the newspaper report did not cite the reason for Birju’s resignation, it came because he (Birju) did not have the qualifications for the job.
“Reshmi reloaded!” PNM Senator Fitizgerald Hinds quipped.
Hinds also asked jocularly whether Birju was the one who “banned” the (former) chairman (now Senator and Minister of Communications Gerry Hadeed) from the airport. (Hadeed had resigned as AATT chairman earlier this year).
Henry also referred to Kurt Adjodha, former deputy chairman of the AATT, “who the Minister of Communications would know a lot about. One of his good friends”.
“Excuse me! Catch yuhself!” Hadeed shot back, provoking chuckles.
Herny said Adjodha was another one who presented “fraudulent credentials” on the basis of which he obtained a big salary “and was running the place like it is a parlour” until Diego Martin North East MP Colm Imbert exposed his lack of qualifications.
Henry also raised the issue of Ishwar Jadoonanan, former deputy general manager, who also lacked the requisite academic qualifications for the job, for which he was paid a basic salary of $51,000 plus $8,000 in allowances.
This was reported in another Express exclusive.
“And this is happening all over our State enterprises sector. That is why you could spend $60 billion and have nothing to show for it,” Herny stated.
Indar Maharaj who is CEO of WASA and president of National Gas Company, was one of the “least qualified” applicants for the job (at NGC). “Compare his qualifications to the previous president of NGC,” Henry stated.
He said NGC was the next cash cow that the Government was targeting. He said he was told NGC sold a shipment of gas for US$12. “They have run into a stream of cash, so that the cabal or the sub-cabal could spend,” he said
On the issue of the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), Henry said WASA had a budget of $3 billion, which was better than most ministries. He said with a budget that large there could be many leakages.
He said the country was promised a metering programme by the then minister Emmanuel George.
George quickly countered that he never said any such thing. But Henry quoted an Express report of January 2012 which reported George as making statements about metering. He said the Prime Minister also made a similar statement.
He said WASA spent $1.2 billion on developing a metering project. He said that because a well qualified foreign company came in first in the tendering for the project, and SIS came second, “since then we haven’t heard anything about metering”.
“Oohh! SIS again,” piped Hinds.
Henry said SIS had been one of the best beneficiaries of contracts from WASA. He said SIS put out an ad in which it denied that it has ever received special privileges.
“The ad did not include” Wasa contract- supply of alum, $45 million; Caroni Water Treatment Plant upgrade $52 million; upgrade of Arima Waste Water treatment, $23 million; rehabilitation of Port of Spain sewers, $80 million; contracts valuing over $205 million. Not included that their ad,” Henry stated.
Henry said Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) had to warn WASA with another project, being financed with a $600 million loan from the IDB because WASA wanted to change the criteria to favour SIS receiving the contract.
Henry said WASA was also engaged in a VSEP. where very bad terms and conditions were being offered. He said 800 were already gone. “750, (accepted VSEP) Minister of Water Resources Ganga Singh corrected. “But your target is 1,200, so you still have 400 to go,” Henry countered.
Henry said the billion dollar Wastewater Treatment project involving WASA and NGC was “totally unviable” and would only cause the State to put more money into WASA.