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No financier in boat deal

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Government sources yesterday shut down Opposition claims that a PNM financier was involved in the procurement of the new ferry for the domestic route.

Reliable sources told the T&T Guardian that the vessel was located through an international broker through a government-to-government arrangement.

Sources said the boat had been ordered by another country which could not meet the required payments and this allowed this country to get the vessel at the bargain price of US$17.4m. The vessel, government sources said, was still at an undisclosed shipyard.

A similar scenario took place after this country cancelled its contract for three Offshore Patrol Vessels due to mechanical faults and stalled delivery dates. The military vessels were later acquired by Brazil for a cheaper cost.

In that case, T&T was refunded its deposit of TT$1.5b by British shipbuilders BAE Systems.

No details were forthcoming on where the vessel was located and who were the international experts and how much they were paid. The vessel was sourced less than a month after the inter-ministerial team headed by Finance Minister Colm Imbert was appointed.

Imbert told the Parliament yesterday that the vessel was “identified by a worldwide search using international experts,” and was “procured by the National Infrastructure Development Company—NIDCO.”

Imbert said the vessel which was newly constructed is now “in the snagging phase which is the phase at the end of the construction of a new vessel.” The purpose of a snagging is to identify any defects which may exist.

Former Transport Minister Devant Maharaj said yesterday that Government continued “to hide the facts,” over the new passenger ferry which has been purchased for the seabridge.

Maharaj said he found it curious that “qualified and experienced maritime individuals did not get a suitable boat for the government, but Ministers qualified in law, banking and engineering managed to get a boat.”

“Why does the Government insist on shrouding the procurement process in secrecy? What is the Rowley administration hiding? Is the Rowley administration hiding a PNM financier with this deal?” he asked.

Maharaj said the government needed to tell the country the name of the broker and how that person was retained.


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