Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Guest commentary: THA trash talk - by Martin George

It is utterly disingenuous and an insult to the intelligence of the nation for the THA through its Chief Secretary Orville London to put forth the clap-trap they have been spouting as justification for their consideration of the hiring of Dr. Anslem London as a Consultant to the THA at a whopping $60,000.00 per month.

As his Political Leader is fond of saying, Mr. London should not “try to play smart with foolishness”. The population is way more intelligent and astute than that. With the plans having been exposed and brought out into the public Mr. London attempts to be splitting hairs on the issue and trying to be cute by saying that, “No decision has as yet been taken by the Assembly on the matter”.

Well Brother Orville, this is not good enough! We don’t want to hear this. What we want to hear you say instead is that, “a decision has been taken by the Assembly on the matter, and that decision is that Dr. London will NOT be hired or retained in any consultative or advisory capacity by the THA.”

Where was the open, competitive bidding and transparent tendering for this position? If in twelve years, Dr. London could not turn around Tobago's failing economy why bring him back now as a high priced Consultant? If he had the answers he would have implemented them all these years. Clearly he had no solution when he was in the seat of power, is he expected to have magically found the solution now?

Why hasn't the THA been looking for the best and brightest persons in T&T to fill key positions? All citizens of Trinidad and Tobago should be open for consideration. 

It should not just be limited to Tobagonians who are considered as candidates capable of providing expertise to the THA. While you would of course try to develop your local talent first, you do not close the door on other possible applicants and candidates and go back to one who has repeatedly failed to turn Tobago's economy around and say that he's the only choice. 

What an insult to all the other bright, qualified, hard-working, capable Tobagonians and Trinidadians who could become competent and capable advisers to the THA's Secretary of Finance?

And on that note, why does the THA's Secretary of Finance need an Advisor or high priced Consultant? Is it that he does not know the job or is incapable of doing the job on his own, or is it that the idea all along was for him to be a front and a figurehead while Dr. London still sits in the seat of power? From every facet and aspect this whole scenario smells fishy and we need to hear the truth.

What we want to hear from you Mr. Orville London, is that the THA under your continued watch, “Will not engage in nepotism, discrimination, political bias and spite in the distribution or award of jobs and contracts under the Assembly.” 

What we want to hear you say is that you will give an account of the manner in which the THA has been distributing contracts, consultancies and appointments for the past twelve years under your stewardship. 
Denise Tsoi-a-Fatt Angus
Have you accounted to the nation for the plum contract which your PNM PRO had with the Division of Health? Where are the results and the documented proof to show that Tobago got value for money under that consultancy? Every day you hear complaints from Tobagonians about the atrocious health care system, the new hospital notwithstanding, as that is mired in a quagmire of its own litany of woes and problems.

Have you, Brother Orville, accounted for the contract rumoured to have run into Millions of Dollars paid to Neil Wilson as the THA’s Tourism Consultant over the years while the tourism industry collapsed in a shambles, with hoteliers crying out, guest houses closing down, staff being laid off, airlines pulling out, negative advisories being issued for Tobago and all other Tobagonians generally as losers in the crash of the tourist industry with Neil Wilson as the big winner, laughing all the way to the bank? 
This is the man who was paid to consult on the improvement of the tourist industry, it crashes and instead of being fired and made to pay back his Consultancy fees, he cashes in big time? Account for these things Brother Orville.

Account also for the way in which rental contracts for vehicles, trucks, maxis, taxis, and heavy equipment and construction materials were tendered for and awarded during your tenure thus far and let us know what changes and improvements as regards transparency and accountability you intend to implement to make things better so that it is not just party hacks and stooges and sycophants who are the beneficiaries of the THA’s largesse in this regard.

Account also for the way in which professional services have been tendered for and awarded during your tenure as Chief Secretary. 

Starting with legal services, are you willing to have the Auditor General come in and do an audit and micro-examination of the way and manner in which legal services have been distributed, tendered or farmed out by the Assembly during your tenure? 

Isn’t it true that there appears to be a preponderance of THA legal briefs going one way only in a rather cozy relationship. Publish the figures Mr. London, state the facts, show all the briefs which have been distributed and the amounts paid. Tell us also when the THA acquires these massive multi-million dollar estates, where do the legal fees on these transactions go? Give us an account, where have they been paid and to whom?

Tell us also about all the foreign trips and tours undertaken by Assembly personnel over the years and show us what have been the tangible, positive effects of same towards building up the Tobago economy in a scenario where every year you have to come, cap-in-hand to Trinidad for your Budgetary allocation.

Give us, Mr. London, an accounting of all the scholarships awarded by the THA over the years and show us where these scholarship recipients, having qualified, are now employed in Tobago, working for the benefit and development of the island.

Most of our Politicians have in the past shown a tendency to shoot the messenger in an attempt to ignore the message but Mr. Orville London, we expect a higher standard from you, especially with the 12-0 total control you have of the Assembly. 

You have called for Independent voices to be heard so as to hold the Assembly to account, and this is what I am doing here. 

I am answering to your call. You have even asked for persons to be appointed as Independent voices in the Assembly, so by posing these questions please do not feel affronted or offended as transparency, accountability and good Governance for Tobago demand no less and one way or another, the people of Tobago will have their say on these issues. So let’s get some serious answers and no more of THA Trash Talk.

Martin George (from THE UNITED VOICE)

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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