Tuesday, September 24, 2013

SNC-Lavalin not acceptable: T&T tells Canada to find another contractor to build Penal hospital

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago (GORTT) is not going to accept a recommendation from Canada to engage SNC-Lavalin to build a hospital in Penal under a government to government arrangement.

The hospital project would fall under the jurisdiction of Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal and supervised by 
the Urban Development Corporation (UDeCOTT).

The decision not to let SNC-Lavalin build the hospital follows a meeting Monday between UDeCOTT chair Jearlean John, Canadian High Commissioner GĂ©rard Latulippe and a delegation from the CCC, a Canadian crown corporation, which is the agency that has been working with T&T on the project. Dr Moonilal also attended the meeting.

The delegation included the CCC’s vice president of strategy and organisational development Mariette Fyfe-Fortin and regional director Luc Allary.

Members of the Canadian delegation presented the CCC’s recommendations based on the result of a due diligence report that has been sent to UDeCOTT.

Speaking with local media after the talks John said the Canadians made a case for SNC pointing out that the scandal-plagued company has a new structure to deal with possible corruption.

"They told us that they had developed enhanced management standards, ethics in governance as well as improved compliance, governance, quality, health and safety standards,” John told reporters, adding that the CCC has encouraged T&T to enter into a contract with SNC-Lavalin to build the hospital based on the company's new structure.

However, John said the Trinidad and Tobago position is that given SNC's recent history, the government has asked the CCC to nominate another contractor.
 Moonilal made the point that Trinidad and Tobago's international reputation would be tarnished if it signed a contract with SNC-Lavalin.

He told reporters, “Since the story broke we have been asking for a due diligence report, which was late in coming. This matter was widely discussed and in light of the latest international reports of corruption, bid-rigging and poor ethical conduct, we requested due diligence...

"We received a delegation from the High Commissioner’s office in Port-of-Spain and the CCC today (Monday) and they presented some conclusions from a due diligence report. After a discussion, we invited the CCC to nominate another contractor.”

Moonilal said UDeCOTT would send a letter to the Canadians Tuesday outline the GORTT's position and await a decision. 

Moonilal said there are no legal issues that would affect this decision. "There is a reputational risk involved in SNC-Lavalin and strong public-interest sentiments about conducting business with companies that have difficulty in passing the test of confidence," the minister stated.

"We must also respect the importance of integrity and confidence, not only of government institutions, but also that of the public. I feel that there is public concern and lack of confidence in the contractor and the position of T&T’s reputation. All projects, especially government-to-government arrangements, must bring confidence in public interest," he added.

SNC Lavalin was engaged to handle the first phase of the contract, which included the design of the hospital. The CCC had asked the T&T government to hire the company at a time when there were no allegations against the company.

However no commitment had been made for the constration phase. Moonilal also gave the assurance that there is no risk of damaging relations with Canada as a result of the decision.

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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