Thursday, November 1, 2012

Howai must wait for documents from THA: London

THA Chief Secretary Orville London
Orville London said Wednesday Finance Minister Larry Howai has no legal or constitutional right to demand documents on the controversial BOLT (Build-Own-Lease-Transfer) arrangement within a specific time frame.

The Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) told reporters he won't deliver the documents for the $143 million Milshirv office complex in Tobago within the seven days as specified by Howai.

The Finance Minister wrote London on October 23 asking for the documents relating to "the funding accessed by the THA for the payment of the purchase for the price of the land for $12m; and details of and all documents relating to the proposed construction of the office complex and its financing, including, without limitations, details of and documents pertaining to any BOLT arrangement the THA has entered, or proposed to enter in respect to/ same."

London said he would eventually send the relevant papers to the minister but Howai would have to wait. He pointed out that under the laws and the Trinidad and Tobago Constitution, the Finance Minister had no authority to instruct him to provide information to him within any time frame.

London said he plans to write to Howai on Thursday explaining why he won't get the documents within the specified time frame. He said senior counsel and the THA senior state counsel would first vet the documents after which he would make the information public and also send them to the minister.

The Chief secretary also confirmed that the Integrity Commission has written to him requesting the documents on the office complex be produced within seven days. He is complying with that request because he said the commission, unlike the ministry, has the legal authority to make such a request.

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has criticised London's delay in responding to the finance minister.

He told local media, "Mr London has proclaimed publicly that he has nothing to hide and was prepared to make a full and frank disclosure of all documents pertaining to this transaction in the interest of transparency.

"One would have thought a polite request by the Finance Minister for the documents in one week's time would have been more than sufficient," he said, adding there was no need to get into quarrel as to whether the request for information was an "instruction".

"That is a play on semantics and typifies the kind of gamesmanship and power Mr London is playing...the simple question is whether the documents pertaining to this public transaction are going to be disclosed, so that the ministry can review it and independent legal advice be obtained."

No comments:

Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai