Friday, December 15, 2017

THA releases documents

Multi-million-dollar complex controversy...


'FIERY': Christlyn Moore makes her contribution during the Senate sitting at Tower D, International Waterfront Complex, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain, yesterday. —Photo: CURTIS CHASE

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Keeping to his word, Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Orville London has made public the documents relating to the controversial multi-million-dollar Milshirv deal for an Administrative Complex.

The documents—some 224 pages—were posted on the THA's website just after 7 p.m. yesterday. Controversy surrounded the Build Own Lease Transfer (BOLT) arrangement between the THA and Milshirv with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar calling for a halt to the project as she questioned the transparency of the deal.

The matter was referred to the Attorney General, Integrity Commission and Director of Public Prosecutions. The Integrity Commission had written to London requesting the documents with respect to the contract.

According to the agreement with respect to the transaction—the THA had purchased a three acres of land for some $12 million from Dankett Ltd—a company with ties to PNM member John Rahael.

The THA then leased the land to Milshirv at $10 annually for 199 years.

Milshirv agreed to construct the administration complex at a cost of some $143 million and then lease it to the THA at $1.2 million monthly for a period of 20 years following which, or at three-year intervals during the period, the THA would take ownership of the administrative complex at an overall cost of some $320 million.

The BOLT arrangement surrounding the Milshirv deal has been a contentious one raised by the People's Partnership and Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) as the THA elections nears.

Yesterday, at the Senate sitting, just before 5 p.m. Tobago-born Justice Minister Christlyn Moore strongly criticised the PNM THA and called for London to disclose the documents.

She said Finance Minister Larry Howai was not yet in receipt of the documents.

Two hours later the documents were made public.

Moore, in a fiery contribution lambasted the London-led THA accusing the PNM of financial impropriety and stirring a racial divide in the sister isle.

She said reports from the auditor general for 2003, 2004 and 2005 show that the THA books were not in order and millions were unaccounted for.

"Where the money gone?!" shouted Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.

She added, "PNM THA insulting Tobagonians by averring that if you vote for the Tobago Organisation of the People, Indians will take your land. Shocking and shameful. Mr president I want to say that this assertion is degrading to the person who utters it and it is degrading to the person to whom it is uttered. It speaks to the marriage of the THA PNM to the continuation of a racial divide at all cost,".

"It is repulsive, it is repugnant to the democratic principles espoused in a global village and the success of that odious infamous message is premised on the assumed idiocy of the listener!" said Moore.

She also criticised the PNM for hosting a Tobago day last Trinidad. She said for years people of Tobago had to suffer and come to Trinidad to get a birth certificate and other official documents.

"Now we have come here to get cold food and hot beers, height of contempt. You want Tobagonians to come to a Tobago family day but you hold it in Port of Spain? So high do you hold us in your regard and Tobago people are not blind...we are alive to these ruses and that is why, Mr president, the hot beers and cold food fiesta buss because Tobagonians are not of that," Moore said.