Friday, February 23, 2018

...Tewarie: Allegations a source of disturbance


Hand-over: Dinesh Ragoo, left, programme director of the National Transformation Unit, hands over the annual report on the Government’s performance in 2013 to Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie at the Hilton Trinidad, St Ann’s, yesterday. Looking on is permanent secretary Arlene McComie. —Photo: CURTIS CHASE


Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie says allegations of improper procurement procedure in the $1.6 billion-dollar contract to a consortium which includes Super Industrial Services (SIS) to construct the Beetham Water Recycling Plant are a “source of disturbance” to him.

“Allegations are allegations, but they do damage. What they do is bring the whole Government under suspicion. I will be frank with you; it is a source of disturbance to me. The truth is allegations have to addressed on the basis of fact,” he said yesterday.

He was responding to questions by the Express at the Ministry of Planning’s launch of its annual report on its 2013 performance at the Hilton Trinidad, St Ann’s.

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has called on President Anthony Carmona to stop the contract, which he said was started under the Water and Sewerage Authority and then transferred to the National Gas Company.

“Minister (Kevin) Ramnarine asked for a meeting with NGC. I will wait until the matter comes up in Cabinet and I get a report. A lot of things are said in the public space and there is no way you can prevent somebody under the conditions of free speech for saying what they think or feel, but that doesn’t make it true. I will have to wait for the facts to determine what my own perception of reality is,” he said.

Dr Tewarie noted allegations of questionable procurement overshadow the real achievements of the People’s Partnership Government.

Tewarie is tasked with bringing procurement legislation to Parliament.

As it stands now, the bill remains before the Legislative Review Committee (LRC) under the chairmanship of Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar for finalisation on Monday.

He said while monitoring the Government’s performance remains his responsibility, ultimately, issues related to procurement fell under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance.

 “I ended up with the responsibility for the procurement bill because I was made chairman of that Joint Select Committee. And because it was convenient and reasonable for me to see it through till the end, I carried out that responsibility. When the bill is passed, the management of the procurement legislation will be under the Minister of Finance. Indeed, I wrote the Minister of Finance and told him to make the necessary preparations,” he said.

After the LRC signs off on the bill, it will go to Cabinet for approval and will then be tabled into Parliament.