Thursday, September 26, 2013

Commentary: T&T stands up against corruption

Trinidad and Tobago has won high marks for its decision to tell the Canadians 'thanks but no thanks' to Ottawa's suggestion that the scandal-plagued SNC-Lavalin should be the company to build the proposed hospital in Penal.

The hospital project is being undertaken with the help of the Canadians on the basis of a government to government contract.

This week the government told Canadians officials while it accepts that SNC-Lavalin is cleaning up its image Trinidad and Tobago would prefer to have no business with SNC. The company and more than 100 of its subsidiaries, all based in Canada, have been blacklisted by the World Bank because of corrupt practices involving some of its top executives.

Read related stories about SNC-Lavalin:


Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal told local media this week: "We invited the CCC to select another contractor notwithstanding their reports of due diligence and management performance appraisal and so on. We believe that public confidence has been undermined in the particular contractor and their problems are ongoing.

“Given that, that company, the contractor has ongoing problems, I do not think it is in the public’s interest to continue the arrangement with them. We have invited them to submit to another company."

The CCC is an arms length Canadian Crown Corporation that has been working with T&T officials on the Penal project. When it recommended SNC-Lavalin for the first phase of the project, which involved designs and preliminary studies, SNC-Lavalin was one of Canada's and the world's most respected engineering firms; its troubles came to light later.

Based on negative developments with SNC-Lavalin the CCC offered to conduct a due diligence of the company and concluded that SNC was rebranding itself and was good enough to handle the hospital project. Moonilal and the government disagreed and told the Canadians to find another contractor.

Moonilal told reporters, "If their position is no, that they will not and they are adamant that they will utilise this company" he would "recommend to the Cabinet that we terminate the government to government arrangement with the Canadian government."

The minister's principled position did not go unntoiced. The respected Huffington Post in Canada commended Trinidad and Tobago in an article headlined: "Trinidad and Tobago Taught Canada an Anti-Corruption Lesson"

The POST also acknowledged the T&T's opposition to SNC-Lavalin and wrote:

"The SNC-Lavalin Penal Hospital deal could not pass the smell test. It was untendered, secret, and guaranteed by Canadian taxpayers.

"And therein lies the root of the problem: secret, sole-sourced, subsidized deals arranged by the Canadian government for any company can't help but create an environment in which bribery, corruption, and conspiracy to defraud taxpayers and ratepayers thrives."
It concluded:

"Trinidad and Tobago lawmakers had the good sense to see that. Why can't the Canadian government?"

WHY indeed? 

Jai Parasram - 26 September 2013

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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