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The Motion is denied.

Leader of Assembly Business

The House divided:   NAYS 13 AYES 2 ABSENT 4


Hackett, Hon. Z.

Augustine, Hon. F.

B.Yisrael, Hon.   Dr. F.

James, Hon. T

Division (Cont’d)

George, Mr. N.

Taitt, Mr. N.

Williams-Orr, Councillor C.

Charles-Pantin, Hon. N.

Clarke, Mr. W.

Sampson, Mr. J.

Pollard, Hon. I.

Kerr, Councillor O.


Daniel-Benoit, Councillor P.

Morris, Mr. K.


Baynes, Hon. T.

Burris, Councillor T.

Question put   and agreed to.

Motion   negatived.

As I close, Madam   Presiding Officer, I want to put on record, that it is contractors of this   sort who are the real ‘colluders’ (if that is the word) in this Tobago that   we have, who sat down and accepted contracts having not even tendered; who   executed works up to in excess of six hundred million dollars ($600m) in less   than seventeen (17) months, eleven (11) of which was under the six/six (6/6)   tie, where they promised that they were not going to be doing anything. Six   hundred million dollars ($600m), and despite what they say, one hundred and   eighty-nine million dollars ($189m) has been paid to them already.

      So Madam Presiding Officer, this Motion of no confidence   is a Motion intended to rob the people of Tobago of much deserved   development. It is a Motion intended to transfer unto this team the actions of the PNM. That is what it is. As the audit report comes out, I am supposed  to transfer all of that guilt; all of that corruption that they have practiced unto this team.

     The facts of the matter are that under the Division which   I am privileged to lead at the behest of the Chief Secretary, that we have   been in office, we have moved one hundred and ninety-two (192) steps; we have built a new road in town. In Trinidad, in the last year or so, they were  building a road to Toco, and the Minority Leader is making noise for a road  in Scarborough. They are building a highway to Toco, using the two (2)   subcontractors that you hate. What would happen when we begin to build that road   from Goldsborough to Parlatuvier?

       We have set out, Madam Presiding Officer, on a Comprehensive

Infrastructure Development Plan for Tobago, and unapologetically, we are not building a PNM   House.

I thank you. [Desk thumping]

Assemblyman James, you have five (5) minutes.

Let me use my time wisely.

     On a day in December 2020, they were awarded twelve (12)   contracts in one (1) day. Those twelve (12) contracts totalled forty-four   point seven million dollars ($44.7m) as far as we were able to assess it. I  am sure if I go back through the email of Administrator Toppin, that   is how we were able to ascertain now - one hundred and twenty-eight million dollars ($128m) in contracts under these programmes to Warner’s Sanitation. This is the cartel; this is the one percent (1%) cartel that the PNM has built and they expect that we would continue the cartel... [Interruption]

Assemblyman James, you have a short time.

7.15 P.M
  • Dane Phillips - Plumbing - he was awarded twenty-four (24) contracts, totalling seventy-six point five million dollars ($76.5m) in addition   to others - Plumbing contractor doing civil construction works.

  •  Warner Sanitation - I am leaving out the construction (because you know that is what you all do,   leave out the construction from the name).

  • Warner Sanitation, the Chief Secretary half mentioned it - sixty­eight million dollars ($68m) to develop ground field lands in Cove and Shirvan to move persons - sixty-eight million   dollars ($68m) before variations of seven million dollars ($7m).

     To date, the record shows that we have paid eight-five percent (85%) of that - cannot get the work done. This contract has a clause where they have to be paid eleven percent (11%) interest for not financing the project. On top of that, eleven percent (11%) interest, while the State is  paying interim payments. I better leave and go back to be a contractor. [Crosstalk] [Laughter] They were awarded thirty-six (36) contracts in the lead up to the 2020/2021 elections, totalling eighty-three point three million dollars ($83.3m). There is no such  thing as an open tender. These are bonded contractors. Chadband and Toppin just gave them contracts. That is what you do - call names. In here, we have coverage. When you go out next time, call my name and say it... [Interruption]   [Crosstalk]

Parks InternationalI have to do this because the Minority Leader came to this House months ago and requested that the Chief Secretary name all of the names of people who were employed and their money, their salaries - individual people.

Friendsfield River – that must be the longest river in the whole of Tobago.

Gabion Basket No. 2, Phase 2 - four point eight million dollars ($4.8m);

Gabion basket wall No. 1, Phase 3 - four point nine million ($4.9m);

Gabion basket No. 1, phase 4 - two point eight million ($2.8m);

Gabion basket wall No. 1, phase 5 - two point eight million dollars ($2.8m);

Gabion basket No. 2, Phase 1 - four point seven million dollars ($4.7m) (I get dizzy already).

Gabion basket wall No 2, Phase 3 - four point seven million dollars ($4.7m);

Gabion basket wall No. 2, Phase 4 - two point eight million dollars ($2.8m) - a total of twenty-four million dollars ($24m) on Gabion basket works, divided into five (5) phases, and Nos. 1 and 2 for each phase were awarded to Parks - no tender.

You have ten (10) minutes of additional speaking time.

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer. That is ten (10) minutes, plus two (2) for the interruptions.

Member, you may continue your presentation.

Motion made: That the Hon. Member’s speaking time be extended by 10 minutes. [Hon. F. Augustine]

Question put and agreed to.

Assemblyman James, your time has since elapsed.

Two other companies were requested to tender and both submitted tenders, but the great engineer could not submit it and he is complaining bitterly. His company was awarded twelve (12) contracts under the Emergency Works Programme, totalling fifty-three point nine million dollars ($53.9m), and that is in addition to Madam Presiding Officer, the famous Dwight Yorke Stadium wall which was divided into three phases for a total of over thirteen million dollars ($13m) - that is Kai Engineering.  My good friend, Mr. Parks International, we invited him to tender. We had four (4) open tenders. He tendered on all four (4) if I am not mistaken. He was successful with one tender. He is executing it now. Yet still they are saying that we blacklisted them.  He received contracts on these two programmes - Road Resurfacing and Emergency Works Programme for above sixty million dollars ($60m). Curiously, Parks International – but he is complaining in the public that he is cash-strapped, and the Minority Leader wants me to invite him to tender because I am the one who is doing it.

I am going to ask that the Member be allowed his time.

Continue Mr. James

Absolutely sure! The gentleman that wrote the letter - Kai Engineering. I want to just spend a little time on this - selected through our process to tender on the Smithfield Road, and in his letter, he was saying yes, he was selected but he could not tender because the time was short.  Again, it is hopeless.

Let me not read. The letter goes on to describe the fact that this contractor somehow has a bonded arrangement with the THA for the road resurfacing programme, and a programme that (and if I am not mistaken) was responsible for upwards of two hundred million dollars ($200m) of work.

This contractor was to provide works on the following: Church Street, Bethel - no scope; no design, build, finance.

The information we have is that they supplied no design, no schedule - nothing. The award was for six point two million dollars ($6.2m) for Church Street; two point four million dollars ($2.4m) for Waterhole, Orange Hill; four point four million dollars ($4.4m) for Orchard Road, and it goes on and on - eighty million dollars ($80m) of work by a letter of award tendered, awarded and signed by Mr. Chadband in one day.

Member, you have five minutes.

I am quoting, Madam Presiding Officer, from a letter.  It is called a letter of award addressed to one Handel Anthony, Managing Director - I am assuming the word is Damaray Enterprises, Battery Street, Buccoo Point, Buccoo, Tobago.

It reads:

  1. “Being an active participant in the THA’s Bonded Road Resurfacing Programme…”

Ok Members. I am getting that he will clarify your …

 Madam Presiding Officer, I will reclaim my time.

 Ok. Minority Leader, he has to talk to clarify.

 Madam Presiding Officer, on a point of clarification.  I just want to clarify because I spoke of no seven contractors except…

7:05 P.M

So respectfully, do not come to this House to tell me that the House the PNM built is what I must live in. [Desk thumping] I see all your friends taking pictures of my house. I built my house in 2001. I moved into the house in 2001 that I built. I turned my keys before probably you were born. [Laughter]

On this business of Tobago contractors - because, Madam Presiding Officer, the stench and the hypocrisy is beginning to get to me. The Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development, and therefore the Secretary of Infrastructure, is the repository of all the evil that took place in the last two years. Remember that! The Division of Infrastructure has the history and the details of what happened.

The Minority Leader in his public utterings, (some would say gutterings) keep speaking about seven contractors. It seems as though he has bought a brief from them. Somebody sold him a brief and he thinks that it is his will and destiny to defend them at all costs. And he has gone so far that he is reading from their letters apparently sent to him as well.

I want to focus Madam Presiding Officer, on five (5) of the seven (7). I call them the ‘big five’.

Madam Presiding Officer, it makes me sound as though I am in court. [Laughter]  They have the colloquial gumption to use the Member’s word to   come to tell us how to do what we must do, and we must say in Tobago a   resounding “No” to that.

     Madam Presiding Officer, the technology seems to be   beating me here. I do not know if it is an age thing. A few days ago was my   birthday, so I feel it is a little age thing stepping in. [Laughter]

    Today, Madam Presiding Officer, this fiscal year, the   Government of Trinidad and Tobago has essentially allocated three point five   billion dollars ($3.5b) to the Ministry of Works - three point five billion   dollars ($3.5b). Consequent to the rains of last October/November, they have   given them another three hundred and fifty million dollars ($350m) to do   emergency works. We have to find ways in Tobago to manage the allocation that we have.

    They keep talking about bread and butter issues, and are just concentrating on giving people work and to not develop anything. This is the point that I   am making. Under instructions from Trinidad, their point is to make sure that   nothing gets developed in Tobago - so focus only on bread and butter issues -   leave development forever. They are afraid, because if we are successful in   the strategy to open the minds of the Tobagonian to say, “Hey, roads and   drains, and bridges, are the easiest of things to deliver,” then our dream of   the ‘City of Scarborough’ comes to light, and that is what they are afraid   of. I want to promise this House and the people of Tobago, and my good   friends opposite, that the City of Scarborough will come. Progressive and   futuristic thinkers make them on that side, and their principles in Trinidad   uneasy, because they want to keep us in the 1960s.

     Madam Presiding Officer, our actions fill them with fear   because we have started development in the right way. We have not continued   with the PNM agenda of underdevelopment and undevelopment, and to feed only   the one percent (1%). This Motion is really an attack on Tobago, masqueraded as I said, a no   confidence Motion. It is an attack on and our development and the prosperity   and the future. As the Chief Secretary would say, it is an attack on a mango   tree that is bearing nice juicy fruits. This is not an old war, it is a war   that has been raged from Trinidad, sadly prosecuted by a so- called   Tobagonian in the office of the Prime Minister in Trinidad, acting through   his puppets like those opposite. The sad reality Madam Presiding Officer,[Crosstalk] -  (I did not interject when you spoke - I said absolutely nothing. Allow me the   same courtesy. We sat and we listened to all the things that you spoke - we   sat and we listened) is that after almost twenty-two (22) years of the PNM in   Tobago and seven plus (7+) years of the Rowley-led Government in Trinidad, we   have never received more than the minimum four point zero three percent   (4.03%) budget. What that says to me and what it should say to all of Tobago, is that we cannot get forward with the PNM. No matter what they sell; no matter what lies they tell, Tobago has not benefited from   the PNM in office in Tobago. Tobago has not benefited from the Prime Minister   who was born in Tobago, in Trinidad, and we will not benefit.

     So, Madam Presiding Officer, let me turn to the new roads   because it seems as though the roads are causing the Minority Leader some heartache and some problems. Let me start off by saying that the whole team and all the people of Tobago are happy and shocked to realize that we could   have built a road in nineteen (19) days. This is a first in the history of Tobago - less than twenty-one (21) days. We are shocked at what the reality   is. The Chief Secretary explained (maybe it did not go far enough) the process   of how projects are approved through the Executive Council, and the fact that   the Executive Council gave Divisions the authority to go and execute. In this   particular case, the Executive Council gave the Division of Infrastructure a   wide Minute that allowed us to go sole select if the circumstances   permitted. We wanted to deliver these projects to the best of our ability   within certain limitations, and we had the authority to choose the   procurement methodology that we would use, and we still decided that we will   go selective tendering. We have still decided that we could have gone sole   select because the exigency of the situation allowed us to do that, but we chose selective tendering.

     I heard the Minority Councillor in her contribution   talking about this Procurement Office and the registration of the office. I   want to say I will use my own example that I, (as my estimation - a superior   contractor - my own estimation) attempted to have my company registered at   the Procurement Office under this gentleman that is there still - twice, and was refused registration. I can point to at least five (5) Tobago contractors that have been refused registration through that office.

Secretary James, I hope that you would bring together this point as quickly as possible.

Madam Presiding Officer, that is why I have problems.

[Laughter] That is why I have ...

Madam Presiding   Officer, I am not seeing where   the Member is going and what that has to do with the Motion before us.

Madam Presiding Officer, if the goodly Councillor will wait, I will bring it all home for her. I am making a nexus between PNM Tobago, PNM Trinidad and PNM Tobago being guided by PNM   Trinidad to come up with these frivolous Motions. That is the nexus that I am making.

Madam Presiding Officer, 45 (1)- relevance.


Truckers call me   everyday, “James we are doing some work on the airport” - no noise! They   brought trucks up here [Crosstalk] - that is a good point. I forgot   that. Madam Presiding Officer, they brought trucks from Trinidad illegally,   destroying the road between Arnos Vale and Crown Point without Licensing   approval. I know I have lands out there. So what we have is a party and now a   government in Trinidad whose political philosophy is to subjugate and   assimilate all of Tobago into Trinidad. They want to take our island, our   inhabitants, our economic zone, all the resources on the land and the sea.   For years they have been taking our human capital - half or maybe   three-quarters now of my family is in Trinidad. They take our oil and our   gas, and they want to take the Studley Park Quarry for themselves. [Interruption]

6:45 P.M.

Even the Minority Councillor seems to have bitten off from that same fruit that they ate. Procurement and procurement legislation, and procurement terminology are important if you want to get answers, and certainly answers out of me. They came here today and they repeated a question and supposed that somehow (because they interpreted the question they repeated), I should give an answer for something that they did not ask.

I have gone at lengths; Dr. Faith has gone at lengths today to explain basic terminology in procurement. I have gone at lengths to say you cannot ask about tendering for contractors before the time. You cannot ask me to give you a list of forty (40) contractors that have tendered through some process. I have answered the question, as best as I could, of those who were invited to tender and they came to the House again today, with half and false information.

While I have in the past, Madam Presiding Officer, thought otherwise, I thought that this was somehow a level of subject bankruptcy; that they are not aware, but today, I find myself thinking that this really is a wilful attempt to place direct lies and misinformation in the public. From Keith Rowley in Trinidad to the Members opposite me, they have had this talk about three hundred million dollars ($300m) of the Development Programme (DP) budget used up. For the record again (I have said this before; I have given it in written answers to the Minority), we have tendered for four (4) projects.

Off my head, (I could be wrong on the figures) one (1) is fifty-four million dollars ($54m) (somebody could count it for me); one (1) is nineteen million dollars ($19m); one (1) is twenty-five million dollars ($25m); and one (1) is twenty million dollars. ($20m). How do you get three hundred million dollars ($300m) out of that? Only the Minority Councillor knows. There is a real reason why we are here. We are here because they are afraid of those on this side of the horseshoe. Those in Trinidad - they are afraid because roads, Madam Presiding Officer, is how this whole thing began.

Let me say that the status quo for the past twenty-one (21) years was that, as my Colleague for Bethesda/Les Coteaux, has tried to explain it in a best case scenario, that over the last twenty-one (21) years, before we came into office, you had to be lucky to get your road fixed. You had to wine down low enough and wave your red flag high and shout, “Great is the PNM devils” loud enough (we just come out of Carnival) then maybe a week or two before elections, you might get the road hustle paved. We came into office paving roads from day one, because we understood that election cycle or not, all of us need good roads to drive on. If we demonstrate to the people of Tobago that delivering roads; new roads; paved roads were a small thing, then we can get into the minds of the public that they could look for bigger things. That is what we are about. We are showing the people that these things that they have waited decades for - the Minority Leader up and down on Facebook to get Darrel Spring, Valley Hill (whatever the street) road fixed. For years, they cannot fix it. He made some noise; he made some more noise. Now he has gone to Mt. Pelier and he is making noise. All these are not roads that broke up in the last year. These are roads and major potholes that were there for decades, that they could not fix. We have come in year one and we are fixing those things, yet, they complain to the point in public. Do you know what they did, Madam Presiding Officer? They wrote letters when they saw they got a little thing fixed in their district. They wrote letters, and the next week they wanted seven (7) more things done, because they have confidence in the Secretary and confidence in the Division. [Desk thumping]

Madam Presiding Officer, development in Tobago has always been a problem for the PNM. APT James had to sail to England to beg the colonials to fix the basic infrastructure in North and East Tobago, while Eric Williams was in Trinidad. While he was in England, they got a calypsonian down there to sing ‘mama look a boo boo dey’, and called APT ugly to get him out of office; to get A. N. R. Robinson in office until Robinson, (God bless him) came to his senses and left them although he was heir to the whole PNM throne. He left them to come back to Tobago. Do you know why? It was because he finally understood that under the PNM, you could get no development in Tobago - none!

During those formative years, during the County Council years ­- 1968 to 1978, (my good friend is too young even to understand) less than one percent (1%) of the budget they offered Tobago, Robinson fought about it. In those days, they just found oil off (they called it North East Trinidad) Tobago.  Robinson said, “Listen, we have oil in Tobago. Let us share the budget. Give us some more money” nothing! Broken Robinson came back to Tobago to push for Internal Self-government as he understood it at the time. We got to the Seemungal draft - another Trinidadian, maybe because he was Indian (I do not know), wrote to say what he thought, as the senior jurisprudence person, Tobago should get. Who stood in the way? The ‘father’ of Trinidad. At every turn, Madam Presiding Officer, from Dr. Eric Williams to Patrick Manning, now to Dr. Keith Rowley, the PNM has stood against Tobago; any development in Tobago, at every single turn.

The current Prime Minister is on record saying that what we have in Scarborough now is a duck pond - unwilling to spend money in Tobago. When he began to spend money in Tobago, he was competing with Robinson during his last days and he was trying to leave a legacy in Tobago - took the biggest contract ever in Tobago’s history - one point two billion dollars ($1.2b) after he and Chief Secretary Charles and the Secretary of Infrastructure, Des Vignes, flew to China. After they came back, suddenly, China Railway Construction Caribbean (CRC) was the only contractor. I heard the Minority Leader said it was a government to government arrangement. Nothing like that is true. This was a project tendered twice by the Government in Trinidad through the National Infrastructure Development Company (NIDCO) - tendered twice using State money; our money; your money; my money.  I am not saying corruption; I do not talk that - and on that contract, there is a local content clause.  I am advised that the company that was the preferred company for the satisfaction of the local content clause, is the good friend of the Prime Minister.  That company turned around and retendered it back to the Chinese. So now no local content down there, but nobody makes noise because the master says this is the way it is, and therefore, that is the way it is.

I rise on Standing Orders 43. I would be delighted if   someone will give me the podium.

Madam Presiding Officer, when I took this job as Secretary   of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development, I knew if I was to be   successful, that I had to give up my name. I have to give up my name to the   reprobate minds of the PNM, because to survive politics where the PNM opposes  you, you have to be of such a strength; to be so strong in heart and in mind, because sometimes it goes beyond your ability to refute lies and half-truths.

     As I rise as always, I want to thank the good people of   Scarborough/Mt. Grace for showing the confidence by voting me into office on   December 06th in a democratic process, and who by their will and   their intent have me in this Chamber.

     I am absolutely sure, Madam Presiding Officer, of why I was elected to serve in this Chamber. All of Tobago will remember that we ran a campaign on promising   Tobago, that we will rebuild a Tobago that can survive on its own; to build   an economy (in this case the Division that I have responsibility for),   through infrastructural development. My goal for the people of Tobago is to   develop a feeling of independence through infrastructural development.

     Madam Presiding Officer, from the very first question to   the Secretary that the Member for Darrel Spring/Whim posed to me, it became   clear at that time that the Member possesses very little knowledge or   understanding of procurement and its processes, and even less of the language   and terminology that governs procurement.

6.35 P.M.

What we are saying,   is that whatever the process is, the process must be fair to all. In this   award of the four (4) contractors, I have been able to prove by way of even   the letter coming from a Tobago contractor, that the process just was not   fair to the Tobagonians. The issues are clear. The issues have to do with the   process, and I have proven in this debate, that the very process outlined,   has been corruptly manipulated by the very Division. So you have the   procedural rules breached. You have your own three (3) to six (6) contractors   as you said. You have said a bag of forty (40) - we do not have that forty   (40). We have been asking for the forty (40). We do not even know who is the   Evaluation team whether they have capacity. We have not seen the financial   documents, and I have asked. “Why is it this project down at Pigeon Point, cannot   be started”? If the issue is that they had the financial capacity, how is it now, they do not have it to start the project? Who evaluated that?

     Madam Presiding Officer - and the thing foremost that they   have been unable to refute, is the cost; the hyperinflated cost. These things   that I have said, I have said it outside, but I have asked the question and   have received no answer. So I have come into the House for us to have the   discussion, because the last thing that I would want to see, is my Colleagues   being ushered out of here in a bracelet.

    The Chief Secretary asked me about us going over to the   station to drop off these documents, but the rate he and his Administration   is going -1 do not trust going over there with them because he might end up   inside there with bracelet and they might just hold me as associate. So I am not going by any station with him.

     Madam Presiding Officer, the point is, I have been able to  show that the cost that this Administration says - you have said that this cost has been inflated and corrupt. You told us that the cost was corrupt, but here it is you are awarding contracts for even more inflated costs; costs that in some instances are   doubled. So the question is: Isn’t your procedure doubly corrupt? Up to this   day, no one has been able to tell me that the cost for the Pigeon Point Road   and the Bill of Quantities are incorrect. Nobody has been able to refute   that. If no one can refute that, then we are accepting that we are in fact   paying a higher corrupt cost. You told us that you are now going to lock up   people because they inflate cost. So if you are locking up people for   inflated cost at one thousand, four hundred dollars ($1,400), then you need   four (4) handcuffs to lock up the people who you are paying two thousand,   seven hundred dollars ($2,700). These are the facts; these are the issues.

     If you listen to this debate outside of myself and the   Minority Councillor, you would well believe that we are in here talking about   Kelvon. Imagine somebody had the gall to come in here to tell Tobago that I   have a company, like I am not supposed to have a company - wicked!

     Madam Presiding Officer, as I conclude this Motion - I  thought my Colleagues would have come in here with an open mind and would have really soul search and remember why we are all here. We are not here  because we are special. We are not here because all of Tobago just suddenly love us, but we are here as bastians and vanguards of the patronage of Tobago. Therefore, it is our responsibility whether minority/majority, to   protect the patronage of Tobago, not simply for those outside, but - many of   us have young children and they would have children. When we are comfortable laughing and giggling, and you are hearing monies that can do so much for the people of Tobago, being carted away in the way I have described and nobody sees a problem with this, and you all are telling me I have to find police to lock up people. I have brought as much information that I have, but there are  places where more information resides, and in some regards, you on this side can get the information.

      When I thought this Chief Secretary would have at least   said I would investigate, he has taken the position, “Well because your   information may not be sufficient to cause a prosecution, then I am not   dealing with that”. However, this is the same Chief Secretary who beat a zip   line for two (2) years, who waved a brown envelope and told Tobagonians that a political leader was corrupt and he was going to the police. Up to now, he has not reached. He ran into these halls on the basis of allegations, but today  he is telling me that he is not going to act on allegations - hypocrisy at   its very highest.

      Madam Presiding Officer, I continue to say to Tobago, some   will love me and some will not, but what I know, is when I finish this four   (4) years, I would have done my part in ensuring that whatever we have as Tobagonians is used in the best interest of all of Tobago.

     I thank you. [Desk thumping]

6:25 P.M

MR. K. MORRIS (Cont’d)

Madam Presiding Officer, in this letter, the contractor goes on to note that the email - and I want us to pay close attention to this, because on many occasions - and I recall vividly in a press conference, the Chief Secretary said to all of Tobago, that none of his Secretaries were involved in the procurement process. But I am reading here from the contractor who was invited to participate, and he is saying that the email containing the invitation to tender and the request for proposal which was received by the company on October 4th, 2022, was also sent to Trevor James, Secretary of the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development (DIQUD). I have to pause to ask: Is this the same Trevor James, the Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development who, we are told, have no part to play in the procurement process?

Upon perusing the email, it was realized (and this is the contractor going on) that Trevor James was directly involved in the tendering process

This is a clear breach of all procurement processes. He said that the direct involvement of Trevor James is again unusually irregular and on the face of it, unfair and contrary to the practices which govern public procurement in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The question has to be asked: What was the Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development doing so intimately involved? And this is not the first time that this Secretary has been tagged in the process of procurement. You will recall that project up at Speyside, (Little Tobago) and there you had it again, a contractor who was sole selected, writing to Assemblyman Trevor James, and writing to Trevor James referencing a meeting that he had in the Secretary’s office where they were negotiating the contract.

Madam Presiding Officer, if this is not misbehavior in public office, I do not know what is. If this is not a Secretary getting directly involved in the procurement process of a Division, I clearly do not know what that is.

Madam Presiding Officer, my good friend and former Colleague, Dr. Faith, (we once worked in the Division of Health) went ahead and she brought a document from the Office of the Procurement Regulator (OPR). She took us to school on everything procurement. But do you know what the Secretary did not tell us? The Secretary did not tell us that right in the Tobago House of Assembly there is a document called the Procurement Procedural Rules of 2018, made under section 30 of the Public Procurement and Disposable of Public Procurement Act 2015 as amended. This sets out the rules to provide for the public procurement, and for the retention and disposal of public property in accordance with the principle of good governance namely: accountability, transparency, integrity and value for money in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA). Part 4 speaks specifically to pre-qualification of suppliers.

I want to take you through specifically to part 3 of part 4. It says:

"Where there are amendments to the documents referred to in Sub rule 1, a notice of amendment shall be published in a conspicuous location on the THA’s website”.

I have searched the THA’s website and there has been no amendment to this document.

  1. “4.3 (1): It says depository of pre-qualified suppliers - A depository of pre-qualified suppliers shall be compiled and maintained by the Procurement Office (PCO), subject to the pre-qualification criteria”.

  2. Part 4.4. Publication of Pre-qualified Suppliers. The list of pre-qualified contractors shall be made available to the procurement officers from the various divisions and shall be utilized for restricted tendering”.

What is restricted tendering? Restricted tendering is all the tendering processes that excludes open tender. Once you have sole selective tendering you must - it says here clearly:

  1. “The list of pre-qualified contractors shall be made available to the procurement officers from the various Divisions and shall be utilized for restricted tendering or as we were told, the selective tendering as was done in the Division”.

It goes on to say pre-qualification period - part 4.5 (3):

  1. “Where a tender has been generated from a Division (and I want to go over this very slowly) only those suppliers who exist on the pre-qualified list at the point in time when the tender is available for solicitation, shall be eligible (shall be eligible, shall be eligible) for selection”.

I want to ask the Secretary when he winds up whether these contractors who were the 3 to 5 pre-selected contractors, whether they were on this pre-qualified list as indicated in this procurement manual - that they shall be, and it is only from those pre-qualified people you should use.

I saw the Secretary using the example of Avicon, and it also goes on to say in terms of Avicon.

  1. “Where a Division intends to use restricted tendering, only the names included on the list of pre-qualified suppliers at the time, shall be utilized, but it gives an exception.

It says:

Save and except where the prequalified list does not include a category which is captured by the pre-qualification”.

In other words, if within the list, the body of pre-qualified contractors, no one can provide the service, then you therefore have the ability to go out and source that supplier, and in the case of Avicon, the type of technology that they provide, they are the persons who provide that in the Caribbean, but there are alternative to what Avicon does. There are different alternatives. I think Shaw Park utilized a different supplier doing a different type of system to prevent leaks. But clearly what this document is saying when you are doing restricted or selected tendering, the procurement list and the pre-qualified contractors from the THA is the list to which you are bonded by, and the Secretary must now tell us whether those contractors utilized in the award of those four roads, whether they were in fact registered with the PCO as is required in this Procurement Procedural Rules 2018.

Madam Presiding Officer, I listened to the Councillor, and I do not know if between in trying to audition to keep her councillorship, or trying to secure a seat in Tobago West, which one was more at the forefront - because I felt like I was lost, like we were in the Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. She kept referencing and debating the Government of Trinidad and Tobago when we are here talking about serious business that concerns the people of Tobago. Our business in this House is foremost about the people of Tobago, and I want to place this on record, because this Administration has this kind of notion that from what we are trying to say, is that Trinidad contractors should not operate in this space. That is far from what we are saying.

[Desk thumping] Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer.

Madam Presiding Officer, it was really, really tough having to listen to persons come here to deflect, misdirect and change the conversation. The only conversation that we should be having here at this  point, is whether or not there is corruption; bid rigging happening in the   Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development, and whether the Secretary either knew or ought to have known that those activities were taking place under his watch.

         Madam Presiding Officer, I have been able to clearly - and   I hear them casting aspersions that I misrepresent information. Everything   that I have and produced here this afternoon, has been documents coming out   of the Division of this Secretary - every document I have produced. The   letter from California - I did not concoct that. California is a Company who   is seeking work with the Division. One of the things that I forgot to mention   earlier, is the fact that this contractor who wrote refuting the account of  the Secretary as to the   process of these contracts, indicated that the Company received an email  from the Procurement Manager at DIQUD at 12.08 p.m., on October 04th,   2022, which said the email had four (4) attachments. The said attachments   appeared to be a letter from the DIQUD to prospective tenderer of October 04th,   2022 entitled, “Request for P - DIQUD” and it referenced the number and the   three (3) ancillary documents. The company was being asked to submit a   proposal for the design and construction of a twenty-five kilometre (25km)   dual carriageway, two (2) roundabouts and a drainage system by October 0 7th,   2022, at 1.3 0 p.m. That is to say, in some three (3) days, we had to  prepare:

  • Drawings;

  • Calculations;

  • Schedules;

  • Time for completion;

  • Bills of Quantities;

  • Financial proposal;   and

  • Specifications

as part of the   contractor’s proposal to guide the construction contract. It simply was not   feasible as must have been known. The financial proposal alone which   accounted for forty-five (45) points out of the one hundred (100) points   award criteria, would have taken considerably longer than three (3) days.

6.15 P.M

Secretary James on the scene:

     “I am glad for it and everyday I am glad for it; everybody   up here is glad for it. King Peter’s Bay Road people are grateful for it”.

This is but a few   of the many expressions of gratitude emanating throughout the island.

     Madam Presiding Officer, the truth is, that this band of   independents is the modern day version of the little engine that could, but I   realized that the PNM decided a long time ago, that we were the little engine   that could not. That is because they looked at their sixty-seven (67) years   of political machinery against what is clearly still being built by us and   decided that we would not be able to accomplish anything, they could not.

     Let us talk a little bit about this political machinery   that the Minority Leader is conveniently a part of when he chooses to. We cannot deny that their machinery works well. It works well for what it was intended -only on winning   elections. We cannot deny that it works well for its main objectives - only   in spreading propaganda. We cannot deny that it works well for what it was   built for, which is to destabilize any Government in power when they are in   opposition. What else cannot we deny? We cannot deny that this machine was   built so well, that you, me, nor us together can change it. Whatever this   machine has been doing is what this machine will always do. So if you have   ever been dissatisfied with that machine as you were on the December 06th,   2021, then you will continue to be dissatisfied if they ever return to this   side. [Desk thumping] So a Motion such as this, is just a facade. The intention is to get back in governance. [Desk thumping]

     As I said before, (Minority Councillor of course) whatever   the machine has done in the past, is what it would always do, and on this   side, however, our motivation for governance is different. We do not have   that machinery. Like them, which in some cases might be unfortunate for us, but in just about every   other case, it is fortunate for you the people of Tobago. Why? It is because   unlike the PNM machine, we are not first beholden to forces outside of   Tobago, whom we must first have to satisfy [Desk thumping] before   lifting a finger; who for you remains the puppet master and whom we have to   first take instructions from before moving a muscle; who we have to bow down   before we even give you the people of Tobago a proper hearing. On this side,   our motivation is different and it simply comes down to caring about our own.

     So when I heard the Minority Councillor on that side (and   she was repeating some media presentation Secretary James made) and I saw her   struggling for content in a Motion she brought, I am wondered what was the   objective of this. You came in here this afternoon and you would believe we   were the ones bringing the Motion - very unprepared - gasping for air almost.

     Again, Minority Leader No. 2 left before the debate was   finished. I am asking Minority Leader No.l, why are we here? Where is the   damning evidence? I waited all day, and I did not even sleep properly last   night. Where is the damning evidence? Look how close we are to the   Scarborough Police Station. Why are we here at 6.13 p.m. Minority Leader? Why   are we here? So the Minority Leader has wasted all of our time this   afternoon, Members of the House and people of Tobago, and I still await this damning information for the Motion you have brought.

Tobago, I urge you to not look for the gimmickry and Tom   foolery of roads, drains and walls around an election time. We, the Members  on this side, are working for you now and we will continue working for you  until the day you decide otherwise.

    Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer. [Desk thumping]

 Even, further, Madam Presiding Officer, when else have you seen so many people expressed their gratitude after waiting for years for this kind of performance beyond compare? It is that expression of waiting in vain for these promised projects to begin; that expression that they can only feel valued when it is voting season; that expression that when many of these projects are finally completed, we could have had three (3) or four (4) more of the same owing to cost overruns and their notorious kickback culture, are what have the Minority Council confuffled on this good Thursday evening?

Hear what is eating them up further, Madam Presiding Officer, (her, him and them): the fact that Tobagonians are being positively affected by Secretary James and his DIQUD team, [Desk thumping] and have been singing the praises of the Division out of their own mouth. Praises such as:

“I am living Fiddlewood Drive, New Grange Development for the past nineteen (19) years. I built a house in 2004.  We kept going to the authorities for assistance to repair the roadway and - no assistance.

When the rain falls the road used to be like a river.  Vehicles used to be skidding. I was forced to buy a four-wheel drive.”

Comments like:

  1. “After a while, we got fed up of them because we had planned to fix it for ourselves. The drainage - well, they started the drainage and it never finished, so when the water comes from in the back by Carnbee the road used to flood.

Secretary James on the scene now:

  1. “The neighbours feel good about the roads - no complaints - feel good!  We appreciate that very much.”

Or praises such as:

  1. “Whenever it rains, it is like you are marooned; you cannot come out. This has been going on for years, and years, and years. Recently - like it got worse than before they started their work there. You could not even come out of the yard here. My son had to go to Trinidad and my husband had to actually lift him to take him through the water.”

Secretary James on the scene:

  1. “So far what they have done, the water goes down the drain.You seeing it - it so good now! When it is raining, you can say, ‘Ah, well, all is well I could leave home and go and do my business’. Before, it was, ‘God, how am I getting out.?”

Comments like:

  1. “Now I came from Castara. I came down here after Flora blew. When I came here in 1963, I was [Inaudible] years old. They were building those steps here, so it is years now those steps here - years! The people are dead and gone. I did not believe we would have gotten a road up here. I did not believe at all we would have gotten to see cars coming up here.  Now, if you sick they could call the ambulance. You could come right up and take me up. I am sick myself.  It was steps.  I could not get down. They had to come for me on the stretcher. Come up, ah gone, and they carried me down. Was hard, real hard. Some said road could not come up in here. Well, we felt bad about it to know, well, how we cannot get a good road to come up here!

  2. Why they cannot give us a road?”

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer, for granting me yet another opportunity to join such a critical debate that is bigger than a no confidence motion against one of ours, but a debate, that is a clear attack on all of us. What we have seen coming from the other side in all the repetition; all the soul searching; all the cries of foul, is simply a continuation of what they have been doing for months; going on a rampage in the media, since the revelation of that damning finding of a forensic audit, levelled against them last September.

     What we should pay attention to, Madam Presiding Officer, is the fact that they have not and cannot deny what was found. No! What they have chosen to do instead, is to draw on the oldest line in the ‘Balisier’ book of bacchanal, the claims of “all yuh thiefing too”, and “all yuh corrupt too”.

Madam Presiding Officer, since then, what was first thought of as a tactic to deflect from their wrong doings, has now become somewhat of an obsession, and so for many of us indeed; indeed for many of you, I am sure that you have wondered why this obsession.  So, for many of us, today becomes the day that obsession becomes clear.

     Why is the People’s National Movement (PNM) holding on to this issue, and holding on to the Secretary for their life? Well, let me tell you why? If many of you have followed the politics of Tobago for the last decade or more, you will notice a pattern when it comes to certain Divisions and scrutiny. Tourism has continuously been bashed for its apparent ineffectiveness as can be seen by low visitor arrivals. Health always gets bashed for what appears to be poor delivery of health-care, and my Division over the years, always takes a beating for continually ranking below the national mean.

     However, Madam Presiding Officer, there is no Division that is constantly in the mouths of the people as that of what we have all commonly called the Division of Works, and why is that? That is the question.

     Madam Presiding Officer, the simple truth, is there is no Division quite like Works in terms of the immediacy with which it can render a result for the population, and this includes seeing the work get done as it progresses. We have seen development on steroids with almost one hundred (100) projects completed in just fourteen (14) months under the leadership of Secretary Trevor James. [Desk thumping] On the flip side, however, Madam Presiding Officer, there is no Division quite like the Division of Works that can be effectively used as a barometer; as a yardstick and as a benchmark for the systematic failures of an Administration. It is in that regard where you can find your answer to the People’s National Movement (PNM) obsession. Unfortunately for us, though fortunately for the public, their obsession is not because of an ineffective Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development (quite the contrary actually). Their obsession is literally rooted in how fast and how far this Division under Secretary James’ lead has progressed when compared to what was obtained in the previous Administration. If they can somehow check that progress; stymied that progress; slow that progress down, they seem to believe that they would be well on their way to return to governance.

   What has that track record been of the previous Administrations, or even better still, what has been its modus operandi in the way it has approached doing the work of the people? Well, the PNM’s approach in doing the work of the people through the Works Division has been strictly transactional. Yes, they have been operating with the proverbial ‘give to get’ basis for all of their twenty-one (21) years in governance. A transaction that would see them only giving you a road to get a vote; giving you a drain to get a vote; giving you a wall to get a vote, and this has led you the people, to look forward to the delivery only after an election bell has been rung. Tobagonians, you all know exactly what I am talking about! You suffered for four (4) years and hope that some attention is given to you in one (1) month, and every Tobagonian far and wide listening knows exactly what I am talking about. It is this mad dash to start a road here or patch some potholes there; the mad dash to build a retaining wall here or a box drain there; and then, within a few weeks after they are back in office, the shoddy work starts falling apart only to be fixed coincidentally, right around the next election cycle. This transactional approach to doing the work of the people in the Division of Works has been the hallmark of the People’s National Movement which my Colleague of Darrel Spring/Whim conveniently is a part of and other times is not.

      Let us go deeper, Madam Presiding Officer. On this side, we have taken a different approach and have hit the ground running from day one. Yes, Madam Presiding Officer, this Administration believes in the proverbial ‘performance beats old talk any day’, and have gone in a different direction from our predecessors. When we put down a “wuk” (and we do put down good work), it is for the satisfaction of the people and not the politics. [Desk thumping] When we put down a “wuk” (and we do put down good work), it is focused more on winning hearts than on votes; and when we put down a “wuk” (and we do put down good work), we are making sure it is built to stand the test of time. [Desk thumping]

    Madam Presiding Officer, when else in the history of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) have you seen a Secretary and Assistant Secretary of Works touring each electoral district even the electoral district of the Minority Leader, identifying priority projects outside of an election period. When?

6:05 P.M.

Assemblyman Hackett. [Desk thumping]

Thank you, Madam   Presiding Officer, for the opportunity. [Desk thumping]

Member, your time has elapsed

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer.

Madam Presiding Officer, before I conclude, what I want to do, is again remind this Administration about its commitment to the people and their social contract to lead with diligence and honesty, and to have zero tolerance for   corruption, nepotism and wastage. You gave a commitment to responsibly use   the State’s resources and privileges. You condemned the bonded arrangements   of the past Administration. You labelled the prices inflated. You claimed   that there was collusion and corruption. I want us to compare, Madam   Presiding Officer, the cost of the projects under the bonded arrangement to   the current cost under this new Administration. The Minority Leader would   have gone into great lengths to look at the cost.

     Madam Presiding Officer, the opportunity costs of   spiriting away over three hundred million dollars ($300m); our entire   Development Programme (DP) project is very high.

     Local contractors, Madam Presiding Officer, are now   sidelined and blacklisted. Over one thousand (1000) Tobagonians remain on the   breadline; closure of indigenous Tobago businesses; increase in the   delinquency and the repayment of loans; persons not able to pay their   mortgages, and some persons actually are on the verge of losing their homes and their   businesses. Families are not able to provide for some of the basic needs;   social support, Madam Presiding Officer, social support to persons in need.   We have persons coming into the office of the Minority Leader complaining   about not being able to access some social services; health care. We have   people complaining about the health care; education, Madam Presiding Officer.   The wastage and the excesses could have gone towards some of the greater   needs that are required by our people in Tobago.

     Again, I want to remind the Administration, that this is   not about PNM. The people of Tobago spoke. The PNM is in a position to defend its actions. The allegations by the Chief Secretary made about corruption on the part of the PNM - we are willing to refute those claims. The PNM is no longer in office, Madam Presiding Officer, and the Members opposite have to account to the people for their stewardship.

      So, Madam Presiding Officer, we are asking them to live up   to the promise and to the commitment that you made to the people of Tobago.Do what is right, Madam Presiding Officer, by the people of Tobago. What you are currently doing is not fixing it. We are asking you to deal with the bread and butter issues.

     Madam Presiding Officer, this Administration got an   overwhelming mandate, and what I will greatly appreciate, is that the Members   opposite, if they are saying that the information provided by the Minority Leader is untrue and without basis, provide the information to debunk what we   have said on this side. [Interruption]

Minority Councillor, you have four (4) minutes.

5.55 P.M

Are we not inviting those persons to tender or are we? So   your actions and your words do not align.

Madam Presiding Officer, the Member also condemned the process of  the previous Administration, where the Executive Council approved a list of contractors and went on to describe the process that this Administration would have engaged in. He said that his staff at the Project Management Office (PMO) sat down with a bag of forty (40) contractors and developed what he called a ‘Logical Framework Matrix’; a modified version.

Madam Presiding Officer, when the Minority Leader filed questions  for written responses in accordance with the Standing Orders of this House, the response to the Minority Leader was quite different to the response that the Member gave in his interview to the public. The question is:

“in relation to the infrastructural works as announced by the Chief Secretary, can the Secretary explain the following:

(a) The tendering process   utilized to identify the forty plus (40+) contractors which the Member spoke about in his interview;

(b) A list of the forty   plus (40+) contractors that he indicated participating in the process?”

    Madam Presiding Officer, do you know what the response to the   Minority Leader was?

     While the infrastructural works as announced by the Chief   Secretary has not been specified by the questions, and therefore cannot be   spoken to, the following responses are supplied with respect to part (a) and   (b) of the question:

(a) Tendering: A tendering process is not used to identify contractors; not by the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development or any other entity that adheres to any semblance of proper or sensible procurement methodology or practice;

The response to (b):

(a) In light of (a)   above, no forty plus (40+) or any other number of contractors other than zero   could have been identified by the Division using tendering, and therefore,   could not participate in such a process.”

The response was   signed by the Secretary, Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban  Development.

     Madam Presiding Officer, based on the response to that   question, and because we were not satisfied with the response by the   Secretary of Infrastructure, the Minority Leader filed another question, and  this was Question 39 on the Order Paper at the Twelfth Sitting. The Member   said that the roads were not specified, so this time around, the Minority  Leader specified the roads. So the question was:

“In respect to the new projects planned and or executed by   the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development as announced by the Chief Secretary on September 08th, 2022 namely:

  • The Dutch Fort to   Smithfield Connector Road;

  • The Lammy Road to   Roxborough/Bloody Bay Connector Road;

  • The Shirvan to   Friendship Connector Road; and

  • The Milford Road to   Crown Point Connector Road;

Please provide the following:

A description of the procurement process utilized by the division   in the selection of contractors and subsequent award of contracts.

The response to that was:

“The DIQUD invited three (3) to six (6) suitably,   qualified registered firms with the THA...”

Madam Presiding Officer, I guess the forty plus (40+) bag of contractors went out the door.

    These firms obtained the required tender documents from   the DIQUD; attended site visits and submitted their bids by the closing date. A DIQUD Evaluation Team analyzed the bids and made recommendations, and subsequently, letters of award and contract signings were executed through the Administrator.”

Part (b) Was a list of contractors invited by the Division   to participate in the process?”

     So looking at the   40 bag contractors - went to eight (8) contractors, but the Member in his   response said that they had three (3) to six (6) qualified. So in the   response to (b), it says:

  • “Kai Engineering and   Construction Limited;

  • Innovative Roofing and Contracting Solutions Limited;

  • Construction Services   and Supplies Limited;

  • Premier General   Services Limited;

  • California Stucco   Company Limited;

  • Namalco Construction   Limited;

  • RJB Building and   Civil Engineering Contractors Limited; and

  • Delta Construction.”

Madam Presiding Officer, when I count the number of firms   here, it was actually eight (8) listed firms. So again, the Member   is contradictory...


 So in one breath you are saying that you would not offer selective tendering to contractors being audited, and in another, you are inviting one of the said contractors under the audit to tender. So, Madam Presiding Officer, what are we doing?

 Good afternoon everyone. Please note that cell phones are not allowed in this House. Can you turn off your cell phones or exit the House? Thank you.

Continue Councillor.

5:45 P.M.

Madam Presiding Officer, when we listened to the Members opposite, we understand that there are different methods used for procurement. We have no issue with that. What we have an issue with, is that what you said you will do, is not what you have done, and when you are questioned about it, you are unable to provide appropriate answers.

Madam Presiding Officer, when the Member was on the campaign trail, he spoke about a development plan for Tobago and that they must consider how we could positively change the income distribution patterns in Tobago. He said:

“We must engage a different procurement system that would ensure that some large percentage of money multiply in our economy. If we are building an economy of Tobago, you have to consider the entire life cycle of the project and tie that into some benefit to Tobago from initiation.”

The Member also went on to speak about him tendering for some project and he was unsuccessful to a People’s National Movement (PNM) financier from Trinidad.

Madam Presiding Officer, the Member had an issue with that while he was on the campaign trail, but now that he is a Representative and Secretary of a Division, there is no longer a problem with that. He went on to say that we are voting to build another economy, and he admonished that we have to put a stop to that.

On another programme, Madam Presiding Officer, while the Member was on the campaign trail again, and this time it was the ‘black table talk’. The Member said that:

  1. “If you are in Tobago, you are not producing any construction material and any piece of material you purchased, whether it is from a Tobago hardware or not, it is not building an economy elsewhere; it is not multiplying here. What multiplies from that spend if you buy from a Tobago hardware, is the markup they put on, and if you calculate that as an economist would, when the worker spends that salary and the businessman reinvests part of that profit, the economist would tell you that the worker would spend on basic necessities first - food, clothing,shelter and all of that is being produced somewhere else as well, and Tobago does not benefit from that.”

However, Madam Presiding Officer, when a question was raised by the Minority Leader in a previous Sitting, the Member claimed not to have any knowledge or does not have any economic background, so he could therefore not answer the question. However, while he was on the campaign trail, he was able to provide this information as economists would. The Member went on in the said interview:

  1. “When you have a foreign contractor, foreign as in the sense, meaning non-Tobago contractor, then the money you pay in labour, benefits another economy as well, and if you were a non-Tobago contractor, the money you spend in managing the projects, benefits somewhere else as well. And so, you go along that line. Of course, the profit is spirited away so you end up spending billions of dollars and the economy does not change in Tobago, and that for me is where the problem is.”

This was the Member’s comments. When you have a strategic intent - he went on to say:

  1. “It is not a lack of capacity, because after twenty (20) years you cannot argue that. When you have a strategic intent to procure construction services outside of Tobago, then you have a strategic intent to build another territory, in this case, Trinidad.”

Madam Presiding Officer, these are not my words.

You fast forward now to 2023, and the said Member in another capacity - Assemblyman and Secretary of Infrastructure with the general direction and control for the Division as outlined in section 37 (1) of the THA Act, the people will now like to know what was the strategic intent when you spirited away over three hundred million dollars ($300m) for purported emergency work - the entire Development Programme budget for fiscal 2023?  Whose territory are you now building? Whose territory is the Member now building? Nineteen million dollars ($19m) for one (1) contractor - fifty-four million ($54m) for another contractor.

Madam Presiding Officer, in the previous incarnation when the Member was on the campaign trail, the Member called those people that he spirited away the three hundred million dollars ($300m) - our entire Development Programme budget. Yes, the Chief Secretary would have indicated that they have not yet issued or made any payments to these contractors, but, Madam Presiding Officer, the funds have been committed. Whether or not you paid it in this fiscal year or you pay it in the next fiscal year, it means that you have to pay it. If you paid it in a subsequent, fiscal year, it means that what you have to do development wise, would be reduced by the payment. You have to do that. Paying it now; paying it then, we still have committed the money and we have to pay. So, the entire three hundred million dollars ($300m) Development budget has been spirited away according to the Member, building another economy.

We would have seen where one of the contractors to the roads that were awarded, brought the equipment from a foreign territory; workers from a foreign territory; management from a foreign territory according to the Member, meaning non-Tobago. I am asking the Members, “Where are the profits going and whose economy is being built?”

Madam Presiding Officer, the Member has now changed his tune. What in his words was a problem then is not a problem now. He is now saying, that it matters not who obtained the contracts; it matters not whose economy is being built, and it matters not that it is at the expense of the Tobago economy.

Madam Presiding Officer, we would have heard about the preliminary audit - that a statement was laid in this House, and the PNM would have responded to that audit, and the statements made in that preliminary audit as laid in this House. However, the fiasco came to light, that again, over three hundred million dollars ($300m), our entire Development Programme (DP) budget (and I need to re-emphasize that) was spirited away to a foreign territory. When the media asked the question in an interview to the Secretary

of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development, his response was based on the audit, and it was clear to the Assembly that there might be a position in the future where these contracts are audited and the Assembly is not going to complicate matters by offering selective tendering to contractors who will be audited. He went on to say that the Assembly needs to demonstrate that they have an understanding of the history and especially the recent history, and so the criteria developed will determine who contractors are selected. So, in one breath …[Interruption]

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer, for the opportunity to   contribute to this Motion.

This Motion comes to this august House just about one (1)   year and two (2) months (approximately fourteen (14) months) into the life of   this Administration. In looking back, it would seem rather, that from day to   day - some level of confusion and bacchanal surrounding this Administration. Madam Presiding Officer, for some, it is quite disheartening because the   people of Tobago gave this Administration an overwhelming mandate. They had high expectations and now they are disappointed with what is passing for governance.

    Madam Presiding Officer, we sat here and we listened from Speaker to Speaker, and what I want to remind this Administration, is that the people adjudicated on the People's National Movement (PNM) on   December 6th, 2021. They gave them an overwhelming mandate to govern the island’s affairs. So to hear Speaker after Speaker speak about what the PNM did - some one speaker in particular would have given us a lesson on procurement and this was not what this Administration promised on the campaign trail. They promised to fix it. They gave the people great hope, and back then while they were on the campaign trail, everything that the PNM did wrong, they promised   to fix it. As I listened to those opposite, it seemed as if what they   promised to fix or what they condemned back then, is now okay since they are comparing themselves, and they even want to do in some instances, worse than what they condemned the PNM for.

      Madam Presiding Officer, I want to also remind this Administration that they now have the responsibility for governance on the island. It is not a blame game but taking responsibility for the management   of Tobago and making Tobago's people's business a priority. You promised to   deal with bread and butter issues. You promised to put people before party politics.

     You were up and   down the place; all over Tobago talking about and signing what you called a ‘social contract’ between the citizens of the various electoral districts and   their candidates. In the contract, Madam Presiding Officer, it spoke to integrity in public office; it spoke to good governance.You gave a commitment to lead with diligence and honesty, and to have a zero tolerance on corruption, nepotism and wastage.You also gave a commitment to the   responsibly use of State resources and privileges. Madam Presiding Officer, my question to this Administration is, how close are they to being true to  their mandate to the people of Tobago and their commitments?

     Madam Presiding Officer, Members opposite spoke to untruths spoken by the Minority Leader, but none of the Members opposite in   their contribution could identify what the untruths were. The Minority Leader spoke about bonded prices that were charged under the previous  Administration. He compared some of those prices to what is currently being charged now. He spoke to supply, place and install asphalt mix and bitumen to a roadway, and back then it cost under the bonded arrangement, one thousand, four   hundred dollars ($1,400); now it costs some two thousand, five hundred  dollars ($2,500), a difference of three point two five million dollars ($3.25m) based on the roadway to be paved.

Madam Presiding Officer, another instance in terms of  grooming and cleaning the roadway back then, nine thousand square metres   (9000 sq.m), it was forty-eight dollars ($48) dollars under the bonded   arrangement per square metre. Under this arrangement with one of the contracts issued, is one hundred and eighty-five dollars ($185), an  exaggerated cost of one point two three billion dollars ($1.23b).

     There was also an issue to reinforce, cut, bend and tie   steel. I think it was twenty one dollars ($21). Under the past Administration, to bend five hundred (500) lengths - twenty-one dollars ($21) per length. Under this current   Administration, it is three hundred dollars ($300).

      Madam Presiding Officer, we have not heard a rebuttal on   those things. When you look at the cost under the bonded arrangement based on   the phased work as indicated, the total cost should have been twelve point   five million dollars ($ 12.5m). Under this arrangement, it would have been as   indicated, nineteen million dollars ($19m).

     Madam Presiding Officer, the Members opposite in their   contributions, did not come to say that we have other information, and based   on the information the Minority Leader is producing, this is untrue. What is untrue about what the Minority Leader has presented, Madam Presiding Officer, that those opposite are refuting? There is no information that has been produced.

      Madam Presiding Officer, one of the first things that this   Secretary did, was dismantle the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit. Again, my   question is, how is placing people, fellow Tobagonians on the breadline; taking food out of their mouths, dealing with bread and butter issues? The  claim for such a devious act,   was that they were political hires. They claimed that no one in the   Department had engineering degrees so they were not suitably qualified.

      Madam Presiding Officer, as stated on the THA website,  (because I looked at it just last night) the mandate for that Monitoring and   Evaluation Unit, is the monitoring and evaluation of programmes and projects,   their progress, impact and the achievements aligned to the Division’s   objectives. It gave some statistics from 2019. I guess the website has   not been updated since this Administration came into office. So it says, the   Unit monitored and evaluated some eighty-seven (87) construction projects.   Twenty (20) were completed and sixty-seven (67) were ongoing.

     Madam Presiding Officer, additionally, if you look to the   standardized job description for monitoring and evaluation contracted officers (and this is published by the Ministry of Public Administration), not one of the positions on that standardized job description, be it Monitoring and Evaluation Specialists; be it   Programme Coordinator; Monitoring and Evaluation Programme Director; Senior   Monitoring and Evaluation Specialists, even the Monitoring and Evaluation   Officer. Madam Presiding Officer, when you look for the requirements of those   duties (and the basic requirements), none of it spoke to having a degree in   engineering. So, Madam Presiding Officer, you dismantled the Monitoring and   Evaluation Unit - sent people home. You dismantled the Procurement Unit as   was described by the Minority Leader.

      The Member in question would have also appointed a close   relative to the Board of SPEL, under whose supervision that Board lies, and   the Member also recommended and is currently paying some Board fees to   members not in keeping - and more than what is stipulated by the State   Enterprise Manual.

     Madam Presiding Officer, a question was asked in this   House about the authority to pay these fees in excess of the State Enterprise   Manual, and the Member in   question promised to provide the Executive Council Minutes. He indicated that   there were two (2) minutes to substantiate that authority, and up to this   time of this presentation, Madam Presiding Officer, we are yet to receive the   Executive Council Minutes; the Authority that approved the revised Board fees   as promised by the Member.

Members, based on Standing Order 16 (2), the House is now suspended and will resume in thirty (30) minutes.

I will be happy to give way to the Minority Leader to do the necessary. Thank you, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer. [Desk thumping]

4:50 P.M

Let me tell Tobagonians how those procurement officers got there. None of them could be procurement officers without the approval and authority of the Executive Council, and it was the People’s National Movement (PNM) Executive Council that put them there. Everyone of them are contracted employees. That is the reality. I am saying, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, that for the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) to become more efficient, there has to be some organizational shifts. There must be some. Having organizational shifts does not mean that there is corruption. Having a shift in how the business is done does not mean that there is corruption. We will all admit here, that there are inefficiencies all over; that there were instances of corruption all over.

Recently - and I will help the Minority Leader out in letting him know that the Auditor General’s Office is here. In fact, they wrote and indicated that they want to do the first fiscal year that just ended that will include everything that Secretary James did, so you have very much saved some time and energy about calling them because they are being welcomed with open arms. I am certain I would not have to answer questions like what people are asking me now, about land purchase and no deed and all kinds of story by the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) previously. I am sure about that, [Desk thumping] but, I want to reiterate a position that I have held and continue to hold, which is, if there exists evidence of corruption - and evidence of corruption does not reside in fake profiles being run by a former Chief Secretary who has nothing to do with his time. That is not where evidence comes from. If there is documentary evidence, I, Farley Chavez Augustine, wants to see it. In fact, it was promised publicly. I have not seen it come as yet and I have checked my emails up to this morning. I have not seen it in my mailbox anywhere and I am waiting on it, but if there is evidence of corruption about anybody in here, there would not be need for

a motion of no confidence to prompt me to remove anybody. There would not be a need for a motion because that action will be taken.  Unlike the people we replaced, who are of a political culture of never firing anybody; never prosecuting anybody, (political bodies that is, successfully) this is not the political culture of this team. Today it is unfortunate that we use the House to lay allegations here, to diminish people’s record, and I know why. Do you see all of those lovely videos that we have been seeing and all the persons who are complaining about how long they are waiting on this kind of development? That is triggering all of this, and they have to find a way to hit back where the success is.

As a child and still so today, one of my favourite fruits is mango. I like all kinds of mangoes. The only kind of mango I probably do not eat is the one they call beefy; I just find it looks big and obzocky, but I eat all kinds of mangoes. As a school boy, I have had many close attempts at a burst head because of pelting mango and standing under the tree at the same time because I just wanted to get that stubborn mango, that is the rosiest out on that limb. I even fell off from a tree trying to pick mangoes out on that limb. Why am I drawing this analogy? It is because we do not ever pelt a mango tree when it is barren. It must have some fruit on it, [Desk thumping] and we do not pelt the mango tree when the fruit is sour either, because if you know the mango is not tasting good, you would not waste time with it. You might make chow with it; you might feed pigs with it.  It will give you gripe; you are not fighting up with it; it will hurt your belly; it will ride your chest, but when the mango is sweet and the mango tree is laden, that is when we stone it. I have to wonder aloud, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, if this is not a case of stoning a fully laden mango tree. [Desk thumping]

The Minority Leader will have an opportunity to wind up the Motion.

He will have an opportunity to talk with me during the break if he wishes. He will have an opportunity to bring documentary evidence; he will have an opportunity to prove the case of collusion, bid rigging, corruption which still have not been proven. In fact, what he has presented to this House, if they are taken to the police, it will not result in any one of the action ...

Thank you, Mr.   Deputy Presiding Officer; thank you Members.

     I was just making the point, that people have been coming   and whispering the things, and I said, “But 1 cannot discipline a Member on   whispers. I could discipline a Member on documentary evidence. I am not   letting my opponents run this ship because they will run it in the ground, [Desk   thumping] and that is what they want to do”. So, it is without fear of   any contradiction that I will join with the Councillor and with the Deputy   Chief Secretary in also saying, “Look, if you have this body of evidence that   you claimed you have that was leaked; maybe you could have seen a contractor   send money to the Secretary (I do not know if he is having a Camille Robinson   moment) maybe you have evidence that he and that contractor were involved in   some way or form prior; maybe you have a photo of him in the procurement   room; maybe you have him on record, on tape doing something - I will love to   have it”. I am going to step further than the Deputy Chief Secretary who   said, “We could pause and allow you to go to the police station”, in saying   to the Minority Leader, I will accompany you there. I will accompany you   there”. I will, because that same principle; that same yardstick I hold out   for those opposite, I hold out to Members of this team.

      I want to, before I close, respond to this notion, that   somehow the organizational structure of the Division (and I will take it by   extension, other areas in the THA) somehow is just being disrupted for no   reason or being illegally disrupted. Everything I do and everything that this   team does, is done in accordance with Act 40 of 1996 and the powers assigned   to the Executive Council of the Tobago House of Assembly. We have procurement   officers throughout the THA. I think I heard (and the Minority Leader could   correct me if I am wrong) some insinuation by the Minority Leader in another   space, that there may have been corruption that happened under the party that   he represented in the past. If I am wrong, I will be happy to take that back.   [Crosstalk] I withdraw that.

      However, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, there have been   assertions that there were corruption and corrupt activities under previous   governments over the last twenty-one (21) years. In fact, the Auditor General   report will suggest that those things happened and unfortunately, they did   not have Chief Secretaries like me who take such a hard line approach against   Secretaries. When I hold things against Secretaries and former Secretaries, I   usually hold it so well that they cannot win court cases against me either,   because I know what I am doing. Despite the well-known fact that corruption   has happened previously, the Minority Leader is saying, that all of the   Procurement Officers that have been in the space as they were set and established by the PNM Executive Council, must just remain   as is and there must be no shifts

Member, your speaking time is extended by an additional ten (10) minutes.


Motion made: That the Member’s speaking time be   extended by a

further ten (10) minutes. [Hon. Dr. F.B.Yisrael]

Question put and agreed to.

Sure! ...Trinidad,   but they would not tell you that people like Foster Cummings were getting   contracts from this THA prior to us. [Desk thumping]

Not only that, I am talking about tens of millions in   contracts from different companies under different names. They would not tell   you that people like him did work that the THA paid for and the work was not   good because the building is falling in on itself down in Scarborough   Secondary School, and it had nothing to do with land shifts, but poor   construction. [Desk thumping]

     They would not tell you that the Administration just   before us that did the market, that the contractor that did that work was   from Trinidad? So Tobagonians were not good for the forty million dollars   ($40m) to refurbish (not to build a new) the market in town; Tobagonians were   not good to get that contract? [Desk thumping]

Victor E Bruce out of which I operate from now -1 have to   move my meetings to Shaw Park. I am really sorry for the workers. I wish I   could move the workers too. The building is leaking like ever. From day one   it was leaking; water is running through where the light bulbs are. The AC is   not working; the regulator is not there, and the Minority rightfully says it   is our problem now, but the truth is, it is a Trinidad contractor that they   hired to do that work because they feel that Tobagonians could not do it. [Desk   thumping]

  • Buccoo Integrated -   same Trinidad contractor.

  • The Fishing Depot in Charlotteville   - same Trinidad contractor.

  • The Fishing Depot in Castara that we only now start to use - same Trinidad contractor. In fact,   that was from Cummings & Associates too.

     I could say it outside because I have the evidence, so I   do not have to mask it under Parliamentary Privileges. I can say it outside. [Desk   thumping]

      So, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, when they come and they   try to make a distinction about where the contractor in Trinidad comes from, it is not because they want to make a distinction about what Trinidad  contractors are getting versus Tobago contractors. It is that they are trying  to raise up ghosts of Hilton Sandy past and hoping that it will work, but   Tobagonians are more matured than that now; we are smarter than that now.

      So even with the presentation of a report from a Quantity Surveyor (QS) - Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, the Members of the media asked me,they said, “But there is this wood slave of a Political   Leader that says that he will send you some documents”. Everyday the media is   asking me, “Has he sent the documents as yet”? Has he sent them as yet? The  answer is no, because I am waiting on the documents because I do not operate   just based on allegations, I operate based on evidence.

     I made it clear in the House last year, I will make it   clear again, and I want Secretary James to listen to me carefully. The same   way I made it clear to the Member for Roxborough/Argyle who is no longer a   part of his team, I will make it clear again. Should documentary evidence   surfaced, that you are a part of or benefactor from any corrupt activity in   any of these projects or any other project, you are gone. I am not even   calling you to tell you I am sending you. You will just see somebody just   shows up to take your work - simple as that, and it goes to everybody here.

     I want to share a WhatsApp message that I got. I got a call on October 31st, October last year. The person said that Secretary James is involved incorruption and I   need to get rid of him. This call came from somebody quite in Trinidad. In   fact, I wrote to the person. I said, “Now, if there is a serious matter of   corruption in the awarding of contracts by the Division, I want to know. I   want the documentary evidence so I can act immediately, so do not hesitate to   share”.

     It will also mean looking to remove those in procurement   because I am not going after a Secretary alone, because clearly if there is   corruption, it cannot be the Secretary alone involved. Coincidentally, if   there is corruption it must... [Interruption}

4:40 P.M.

However, history   is important, so you can point out people's nefarious intent when it comes to   some things. In this House, we had conversations today about contractors from   South... [Interruption]

 Thank you. I was at the point, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, where I was pointing out just as a sidebar, that those fingered - and I will be very careful about how I treat with the final audit report which I can advise this House is completed. The reason for that, is that I got the opportunity to see what happened with the report on firearms from the Central Government.  Then when I looked back all the way to the Scott Drug report, I got to recognize that if you are not careful, you will have the report with all the evidence and you cannot lock up a single soul. So, I will not talk out of turn about that Report at all.  I did not even give the other Members of the Executive a copy of that final report. All Tobagonians will see, will be actioned on that report. This Administration does not need to blacklist anybody. The law will treat with people accordingly. End of story! [Desk thumping] But I wish to let Tobagonians know that some of these same contractors - those who bad talk the Chief Secretary in public square, some of those same contractors have been in receipt of contracts from this Administration; have been in receipt of payments from this Administration for those contracts, and furthermore, Madam Presiding Officer, some of those same contractors in some instances, have either done shoddy work or incomplete work, and we tried our best to assist them. Look at a case in point. We tried our best to assist one of them with completing work to facilitate the movement of people who had to be put off of the airport that they are building. And I wonder if that airport is not a prime example of bid rigging. All this academic exercise, that might be a prime example of bid rigging - where only one tenderer ended up as the tender at the end – twice!  But then again, we have one of those contractors that I figured should be completing work in the THA. And for the THA, for those people, we have paid every cent up to date - correct Secretary of Infrastructure. Notwithstanding after paying every cent up to date, the Division could not even locate a copy of the contract with the said contractor, and we sat down and perhaps some will say, like fools, waiting, being patient, saying, “Oh gosh, finish the contract ‘nah’, the people need to move”. We did not want to have to block the road; we did not want them to break people’s houses down and we had to intervene as a THA. And why am I talking about it, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer? Because this Motion, like several Motions in the space, have been prompted by some of the corrupt one percenters from this Tobago space. [Desk thumping] Some have been about the space saying to key Members of this House, show me your motion and some Members of this House just wining left and right to their tunes. And how do I know that, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer? I know that because I could say for a fact that one person in the space had the audacity to even say to me, look, if you fire the Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development, you all will get financing for the next election. And I am at the point of saying, but even if you are to finance any team I am to lead, your money is not sufficient to control Tobago’s business. It has to be the people that manages Tobago’s business. That is what democracy is about. [Desk thumping]

       Further, Madam Presiding Officer, I want to speak to this attempt to tie this matter into this talk of Trinidad contractors.  And the Member for Roxborough/Argyle just spoke, and there is a principle that says 20/20 vision is in hindsight or hindsight is 20/20 vision. I listened to the Member for Roxborough/Argyle who clearly cannot tell the difference between recurrent expenditure and development; who clearly does not understand that the Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP), and the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) workers, do not get paid or salaried out of the three hundred million dollars ($300m) capital development funds - only those workers who are seen as development workers. And in principle, “development workers” should remain until such time as the development project expires, but we know we have kept them beyond that and they are as good as permanent now. But CEPEP and URP workers that he referenced, they are not being paid by development expenses. Furthermore, he attempted to quote how much the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) has for URP, and to suggest that we should be using the money to pay more URP and CEPEP workers. Maybe, he should have spoken to the Councillor on the other side, because she would tell him how much the THA really spends on CEPEP and URP, and that eighteen million dollars ($18m) and ten million dollars ($10m) are not the figures, and that we have already more than triple the number that we have budgeted for.  Then there is this attempt to say, well, they used all of the Capital Development money to do these projects. If that was the case, how did the Division of Education got to do their projects and to pay their contractors? How did the Division of Tourism got to do their projects if we had used the entire three hundred million dollars ($300m) to do that? In fact, I will tell this House, that even with the road down in Smithfield, they have not gotten a cent yet. The first payment I think should be sometime in April this year. They have not gotten not one cent yet. The one in Moriah that they are referencing - and you see the hypocrisy does not always come with memory. The work that was done on that road in Moriah, the first part of that road was done by a contractor contracted by the team that the Minority Leader campaigned for. That contractor was from South Trinidad who did that first work. [Desk thumping]. And not only that.  When the thing came up for tender to do the rest of the work that resulted in moving the steps – in fact, the rest of the work the Division did, was more extensive than what the Division had planned to do from before. What the Division had already planned to do, was to prevent the land from going down in the gully, in the deep ditch in the bottom. The Division did that, plus gave the people driving road access. And when the Division did the tendering, I am advised that that same contractor that was contracted before, that was from South Trinidad, tried to - not tried to - he made a bid again, and because he just did not want to negotiate, someone came in lower than him and that is how he lost that contract. And do you know what? If this Administration had gone back to the same contractor, they would have still stand up in the public square and say, they are giving contracts to contractors from South Trinidad because there is a desire to be mischievous with how information is used.

       Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, it did not work through two elections and it still “nah” work today. [Desk thumping] I want to go further - and it is not that I am comparing the People’s National Movement (PNM) with this team, because if this team ever behaves like the PNM that ran this island for twenty-one years, I will disband the team myself. [Desk thumping]

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer.

I beg to move that this House remain seated until the Chief Secretary has completed his presentation.

Question put and agreed to.

4:30 P.M.

And let me “park” parenthetically to say this: That I have been more cautious about the wrapping up of that audit exercise...[Interruption]

4:20 P.M.

I do not even know   if my father was even thinking about it. I do not even know if my parents   were together and doing rudeness yet when Tobagonians were conceptualizing that road.

     Here I am, many years later, grappling with a very small   capital development budget, and now considering that this is a road we ought   to do. Of course, the Executive said, “But if you do this road it will really   help with traffic management for the Carnival”.

     I am told (because I was not in the J’Ou vert, maybe the   Minority Leader was there) that some bands never even got all the way to the   end of the line, they got stuck along the main archery. So if the Division   was able to successfully complete those two (2) roads, then the hiccups, the   intervention with the traffic trying to get to and from the airport, would   have been minimized. Unfortunately, the Division has been unsuccessful with   both of those projects. The one going through Friendship did not get beyond   the tendering process and so was never executed. The one going attaching from Milford Court all the way around, that got   started and remains incomplete.

     Then, there was another road that was brought for the Executive

Council to consider - granted, I want you to pay attention to the process.The Division   brought the projects to the Executive. The Executive approved the projects and   the Division’s staff did the procurement... [Interruption]


Thank you, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer. So I was just   pointing out

the project matrix.   The Division brought the project concept to the

Executive for   approval. The Executive approved and the Division’s staff executed the   project.

Then we looked at the road in Scarborough, the road that   some will love to hate, but that many, many, many, many, Tobagonians   have grown to love and   appreciate. [Desk thumping] That is a project, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer,   where in twenty-one (21) days, not twenty-one months and twenty-one (21)   years - in twenty-one (21) days, two (2) bridges were built. I want to   understand that some will deliberately try to mislead, talking about it is   just a slip and curb, and just a slab over a drain. Some opposite have made   that point, and I see the Member for Roxborough/Argyle in his usual fashion,   laid his allegations and disappeared from the House, notwithstanding, two (2)   bridges were built in that period of time. Two (2) bridges - one (1) by   Scarborough RC and one at the side of the Port Mall carpark, to be able to   connect effortlessly coming from Mt. Marie all the way to Dutch Fort and out.

     I could tell you, Deputy Presiding Officer, I used that   road on Carnival Sunday in October - and no, I was not going to Carnival - in   fact I was going to the Victory Outreach Church that is located over at   Sangster’s Hill. The members of the Church community in that area, that   included the People’s Pentecostal Church, the one with Pastor Frank, the one by VictoryOutreach, the Good   News SDA people - they all met me as Chief Secretary, to ask if I am sure   they will be able to get to and from church in the middle of the Carnival   because they did not want to disrupt their actual church and worship   sessions. So to say that road was not used or was not useful, is to be untrue   about the reality of that road. In fact, it will appear, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, as what this Administration could do in twenty-one (21) days, they could not in twenty-one (21) years. [Desk thumping] Maybe, it is a case where a year for a PNM is one (1) day for this team in terms of development. [Desk thumping] Twenty-one (21) days that was done.

       Then there was the road at Argyle that started but was   incomplete at the time of the October Carnival, and is on its final stage. I also used that road during the October Carnival. In fact, I used it on the night that there was a major fete at the Cyd Gray Complex. I had to pass on   that route coming from Speyside, and because that road was incomplete, it was a traffic nightmare   getting through there (because it was incomplete). I used it again during   this Carnival because while some were enjoying themselves having a good time -I have no problem with that - not judging anybody. I took the time to visit   all the camps I could find on the island. So I had to use that road because   on Monday when I was trying to come from Speyside, I came from the camp in   Bloody Bay, came through to Charlotteville to Speyside and on my way down,   the bands were somewhere around the First Citizen’s Bank (FCB) in Roxborough. So I had to reverse, go over Station Hill and use that road. That road is near completion, and because of that, there was not a traffic nightmare in Roxborough during the February Carnival as occurred in October - because of   that road. So the question about whether these roads were useful and   necessary, does not come into play, They are useful; they are necessary, but   the Minority Leader sought to cast aspersions and sought to ridicule the   Secretary of Infrastructure, claiming that some of the things look improper   (they may be improper) and in some instances   he said, they were improper. I find it unfair, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer,   that the same person who says that these contractors were involved and   exposed by the audit that I commissioned when I came into office, should   continue to work with the THA until they are proven guilty, is also saying   that the Secretary of Infrastructure must be removed before being proven   guilty.

     I want you to see the juxtaposition, and I want to put it   in this House, Mr. Deputy Presiding Officer, that some of those same   contractors fingered in the audit exercise I commissioned, have and continue to work with the THA; this THA. As a matter of fact, I want to also go on record to remind the island that I never called the name of anyone of the contractors. I see people jumping out their own skin. You see, what happens when you throw crack corn - yard fowl usually finds it. Some of those jumping out their skin have done work for this Administration; have received payments  in the tune of millions from this Administration for work done during this tenure. They are not going to   tell you that. Some will not tell you that they even did bad work. Let me put   it this way: they did bad work trying to put down gabion baskets; did   retaining work, and one bit of rain washed it away - no footing and all of   that.

     I can put it on record as saying, when matters like that   came to the Executive Council and some felt, “Look, we need to probably put   the contractor on blast; we need to not pay the contractor or tell the   contractor to go from here”. My position was different. My position was,   “Find a way to let them finish the work. Give them a bligh to finish the   work”. These same contractors, some of whom try to drag my name,   notwithstanding the fact to this date, I have not called the name of a single   contractor fingered in that audit exercise that I commissioned.

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer. I guess some people decided to come into this House without preparing at all. So you come and bluff your way through - what they say, ‘voops’ and ‘vaps’, ‘Voodoom’; ‘vadam’, hoping to connect on something. Google some definition, hoping to make a point and end up being more incoherent than the Minority Leader No. 1.

Allow me, Madam Presiding Officer, to begin by pointing out, perhaps generally and specifically, how particular projects over the Division of Infrastructure are done by this Administration. In the first instance, the projects under question, the way they are handled is that the Division came to the Executive Council as other Divisions will come to the Executive Council from time to time bringing an idea; a concept; a project that is to be done by the Division. The Executive Council (EC) sits, considers the idea; the project; the concept that has to be done and then the Executive Council says, go ahead and execute, or sometimes the Executive Council would say, hold; wait, or sometimes the Executive Council would say no. That is because we are attempting to practice a habit of the Executive Council not being the final arbiters on which contractor gets which contract. If we use a reversed method - and that has been used in the past. In fact, the much talked about project that led to over one hundred million dollars ($100m) in works - in fact, well over three hundred million dollars ($300m) in works over a three-month period. Those were done in reverse, meaning the Executive Council sat and located in some of those Executive Council Minutes, the actual contractors to be adjudicated on by the Executive Council.

I want to carry Tobagonians through the process. The Division comes and the Division says, if we are going to do J’Ouvert through Crown Point,it would be great if there are alternative routes to the airport because we do not want to block the carriageway, especially given the anticipated size of the J’Ouvert. So the Division attempted to see if they can have roads parallel to the main artery running down the centre of Canaan/Bon Accord to Crown Point.  So that arguably someone will be able to access the furthest

end of that part of the island, using roads on the left and the right.

One of the roads, the one passing through that they wanted to do, passing through the Friendship Estate, that did not get started at all - and Tobagonians must appreciate that Tobago has been talking about a road to go through Friendship as a bypass to the airport, long before I was born.

Assemblyman Augustine, please continue your presentation.

That is actually not a Standing Order Mr. Duke.

I said to judge the man based on his works.

Both parties, please sit.

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer - an interesting afternoon thus far.  It is interesting that I am coming on the heels of a request for us to take an allegation as gospel, and to act on the allegation as gospel. When, Madam Presiding Officer, Tobago knows that this Chief Secretary has an uncanny ability to give every single man an opportunity to prove himself. In fact, Madam Presiding Officer, if I operated based on just allegations, then perhaps, the Member for Roxborough/Argyle would not be in this House. If the people of Roxborough/Argyle voted based on just allegations, then the Member for Roxborough/Argyle will not be in this House.  I find it quite incredulous that the man who said, “Do not judge me based on allegations, wait until I get a chance to prove myself”, is today saying, that I must make a decision on another Member based on allegations only and without substantiated evidence. [Crosstalk] Madam Presiding Officer...[Interruption]

Assemblyman Augustine [Desk thumping].

4:10 P.M

In Guyana, they are doing the same thing across there. When any foreigner comes inside there to work, they have to involve the local contractors. The government is working for the people, or at least on paper. In here, as soon as my Colleagues got inside, they ditched the boat that brought them; they burnt the paper that got them into power and they claimed Independence - every man for himself and God for us all. So they have no creed; nothing to follow. They operate by ‘vaps’ and ‘voodoom’. That is what they operate by. Whatever they tell them, they just do with their vibes - come - today, come today.

We ought to look after our Tobagonians. I am saying, Madam Presiding Officer, today is not too late; it is not too late for us to go back to our moorings. Let Tobagonians feel included in this whole development process. What happened to Self-Help? What happened to getting people involved. People are sitting down and when I checked out a lot of these

projects, it is only a few persons they are hiring. We have to stop that because otherwise the public will continue to ask the questions: Where the money gone? Are we getting justice for our money?

As I wrap up, Madam Presiding Officer, I say today, that it is a matter for the Chief Secretary to decide on whether he wants to revoke the appointment of the Secretary or not, but the public will have to judge the Chief Secretary. All of us took an oath, and the oath that all of us took, is something that goes like this:

“That I, John Doe, having been elected as an Assemblyman for Tobago, do swear/affirm that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Trinidad and Tobago; that I will uphold the Constitution and the law; and I will conscientiously and impartially, discharge the duties and responsibilities of the Assembly that I now assume.”

All of us took that as an Assemblyman. However, as Secretaries, they

would have taken that same oath except they would have added to it:

“…and do right by all manner of people without fear or favour,affection or ill will.”

I call upon the Chief Secretary to exercise that aspect of it. So long he has been saying he is going to reshuffle, reshuffle, reshuffle. Maybe, all he has to do, is to move around a few people to get some results and to tame the wild kind of unedited spending. If he is to move people around, inasmuch as he is saying he has limited capacity, I see everybody across there could handle the job; every man could handle a job there. They could act on their own - adults I see on that side. He must act - at least reshuffle. Let the public have some level of confidence in him.

Madam Presiding Officer, I leave my case there and it is for him to decide whether or not the purse that falls underneath him is corrupt.

As Faris said, follow the money.

4:00 P.M

This thing wreaks corruption, but I will tell you this: corruption is dangerous; it is a cancer, and as says - “exposing corruption and  holding the corrupt to account”... - by no means am I labelling my Colleague  across as corrupt; by no means. I am speaking about things that concerns the   public. I think my Colleague on that side may be a dignified gentleman unless the result shows otherwise. I think he is a dignified gentleman. I mean, let   us put it in the thing here - “...can only happen if we understand the way corruption works”. That is what we are trying to find out here. How did three  hundred million dollars ($300m) go in the hands of a few people? The way in which corruption works, is what we are asking for. As they do in the court,   sometimes you are not guilty based on information; they say, ‘guilty based on circumstances’. They call it ‘circumstantial evidence’. You pass by and the woman falls down and they say she had a lash on her foot. That is circumstantial evidence. We aresaying that there   may be circumstantial evidence that speak to corruption. This is not any hit   and miss Georgie Porgie kind of story. This is serious business. So we have   to understand the way in which corruption works and the systems that enable it.

     So the Minority Leader pointed out my good friend across   there from Scarborough/Mt. Grace; how he hired his own Project Manager. So,   he is talking about how he enabled the corruption or how he could have   enabled it, and how he hired people without the blessings of the proper organization that does the organizational planning. Maybe, that could enable corruption. We are talking about serious material here, but for the life of  me, those on the other side think it is a joke, but the public understands that corruption erodes trust and a lot of people are saying things. It weakens democracy, because you do not want to hear nobody at all; you just want to do what you want to do. It hampers economic development. Let me just pull aside and pause here for a while and whine upon it a little bit.

    You see, last year when the Government read the budget,oil was  pegged at ninety-two US dollars (US$92) per barrel (let us call it that) and gas was pegged at six dollars ($6) per barrel or MMBTU, as they call it.Today, those prices have gone South. In reality, what you are getting out there right now for gas; what it is selling for, is seventy-eight dollars ($78) per barrel - big deficit in our budget; in our estimation - big deficit. For gas, instead of six dollars ($6), it is now being sold at two point four (2.4)  MMBTU.

     What I am saying to you, Madam Presiding Officer; what I   am saying  to this country, is that that shortfall of oil and gas in our estimation, should have brought in some (let me get it correctly) fifty-six point two billion dollars ($56.2b) in revenue at the end of September 2023 - almost half, and we should have spent fifty-seven point seven billion dollars ($57.7b).Therefore, the deficit in this year’s budget should have been approximately one point five billion dollars ($1.5b), but with oil at seventy- eight dollars ($78)   per barrel and gas being sold instead of six dollars ($6) to some two point   four (2.4) MMBTU, we are in a serious crisis; we are in serious crunch for   money. Therefore, this Motion becomes more serious. It becomes more serious   because the dollars that we are spending as if it is water, is a finite   resource, and what we are giving away, will take a very long time to come.

     I traverse the streets of Tobago all the time and I hear   people complaining about not getting their ex gratia payment though they   promised them the ex gratia payment, and it could be because of corruption;   because they are misusing the money. When they misuse the money, the funds   that they are expecting does not come, because the government in Trinidad is   in a crunch, hence they are trying to increase electricity which falls under   the Division of my good Colleague of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development.They should have been the one championing that. I mean, I know that they will   say it is under Housing and all that kind of stuff, but they should have been   the one championing that along with my Colleague from Mason Hall/Moriah. They   should have been committed to championing that and say, “Let us reduce this;Tobago cannot pay that; x, y, z be the case”.

    They should have been the ones championing the reduction   of the airfare and the boat fare to Trinidad; that extra one hundred dollars ($100) return. They should have been championing that because money is a scarcity. Corruption indeed, Madam Presiding Officer, weakens democracy and it hampers economic development. It further widens and intensifies inequality, poverty and social division, and environmental crisis.

     There are a lot of people today who are unemployed - young   people in particular have a lot of subjects. They did what they were supposed to do. We have told them, “Look, I am going to teach you how to fish so they can fish for a   lifetime”. They went to university; they went to technical school; they went to high school; got what is required so that they could start fishing, but when they are fishing whole day, they are not getting anything. I am speaking   symbolically. Why? Some big, political trailer passed and picked up   everything; cleaned up all the jobs and they.

      So recently as last year December, persons got two (2)   fortnights and some were told they would have continued to work - no jobs   because there is no money. Why there is no money? Few men got some three  hundred million dollars (300m). One (1) man got some twenty million dollars ($20m) for a drain he crossed down in town down there; another man got some twenty-five million dollars ($25m) for some steps he converted into a road in Moriah; a next man got some twenty-five million dollars ($25m) for a piece of   concrete they put by the side of the road and threw some rotten rocks on it   and called that road in Argyle, ‘Lammy’. That is how the money is being spent.

     If we look at the budget for URP and CEPEP, it is about eighteen million dollars ($18m). What I am saying to you, is we could have   hired twice the amount of people; over three (3) times the amount of people with those projects. So with the project that we ran in Scarborough: crossing   that little drain down between Smithfield between, and the one in Lammy,putting in these little culverts by the road up there (we called them concrete by the road) or only converting the steps into a road - that is all good, but in an economic crisis where dollars are scarce, that could have hired three (3) times the amount of persons working in URP and CEPEP. Though the money is not much, I can say to you, it would make a lot of difference in   the lives of people who have nothing to expect when the month comes. We are   talking about using our money for the greater good of society. This is what we spoke about on the platform.

     Also, we spoke on the platform that when we hire contractors we aregoing to discriminate positively towards them. What do I mean bythat? I heard my good friend from Belle Garden/Glamorgan; she is the only person who spoke really. I have heard her speaking about Tobago contractors not being able to get hundred dollars ($100), thousand dollars ($1,000) or a hundred thousand   dollars ($100,000). That is disrespectful. It is a shame! We said we know   that Tobago contractors were now starting out, and what we were going to do to build capacity. We spoke about that on the platform. Persons voted for   that.

      What we were going to do and what we should have done,   was, for any contract that the Tobago contractors were not able to do, (and   there are a very few contracts they cannot do here) we would have gotten someone from Trinidad or wherever, but at least forty percent (40%) of that money would have gone to the local contractor.

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer. For a moment I felt a bit confused. I am seldom confused. For a moment I wondered if I were in the right place, or if I were in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), of you know what. Thank you.

     To all my Colleagues I stand here today, to amplify the Motion, and I want to depersonalize it - and I can tell the power of speech that my Colleagues on the other side that it is said when the sun is too hot, you have to get up and look for the shade. It is said that a rose could have thorns but thorns do not have roses. They are two (2) separate issues.

Madam Presiding Officer, the issue today is one that exceeds bid rigging; one that speaks to corruption. I want to spend a little time on what my Colleague, the Assemblyman from Belle Garden/Glamorgan did not speak on. She brought nice power points using the TV for their own personal gain. I want to speak about corruption. The Motion reads:

WHEREAS there is public concern about allegations of bid rigging and corruption within the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development;

AND WHEREAS the Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries, and Urban Development knew or ought to have known about these allegations of corruption;”

There is a reason why I am reading it. After all that long waste talk about this and that, you went off the road and you have left the audience misguided. There is a need to come back. Why are we here? I said I felt confused for the first time in this House. I am very seldom confused. I did.

“AND WHEREAS the Secretary’s conduct in relation of the allegations, raises questions about his suitability to conduct the affairs of the people of Tobago and hold Public Office;

BE IT RESOLVED that this House affirm a position of no confidence in the ability of the Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development to continue to lead that Division consistent with his oath of Office;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this House support the call for the Chief Secretary to act in accordance with Section 36:3 (c) of the Tobago House of Assembly Act and to advise the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to revoke the appointment of the Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development.”

This is serious business. I have to drop it like it is hot. There are allegations of corruption certainly in the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development - there are allegations.  I went to and I typed in: What is Corruption? How do you define corruption? says:

“We define corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private


Then it explains the negative effect of corruption.

“Corruption erodes trust, weakens democracy, hampers economic development and further exacerbates inequality, poverty, social division and environmental crises. Exposing corruption and holding the corrupt account, can only happen if we understand the way corruption works.”

Very important - and the system that enables it. I have to drop it like it is hot.

My friend, my Colleague, though we are not on the same side, I saw him making some points that are valid. A project for a basic crossing of a drain between Smithfield and the Dutch Fort areas, amounted to approximately some twenty million dollars ($20m) - a few slips and curves.

But upon an evaluation of that project, it was dubbed to be in the vicinity of seven million dollars ($7m) or thereabout. They, in that department are entrusted with trust and public funds to achieve - let me get the correction term here - that entrusted them with power and public funds, could it be that

the prices were escalated for private gain? That is the question that we have to ask ourselves in the House today - whether or not things that have moved from usual to unusual - have gone so because of private gain.

The Minority Leader spent a great deal of time pointing out the bill of quantities on certain projects. It was normal and then it became abnormal on one (1) project. That again, causes the public to question and to have concerns because they have entrusted to that Division, the power, the finances, and they said to them, “Manage our business.”  So how is it good for Peter, but it is not good for Paul? How is it not good for the goose but it is good for the gander? That is the question the public is asking out there. That speaks of corruption and all he is doing, is saying look, these are the allegations, and we are expecting my Colleagues on the other side; these dignified gentlemen and refined ladies on the other side, to speak up and not to try to rubbish the idea.

I heard my Colleague, the same Assemblywoman from Belle Garden/Glamorgan say in a very passionate voice, that there is no need to continue this debate. Maybe she was right, because those who spoke after her said nothing, and yet, I heard the Assemblyman for Parlatuvier/L’Anse Fourmi/Speyside saying, give them ten (10) minutes more. I thank God for the wisdom of the Minority Leader.  He stood up and he brought them back on principle and immediately their debate came to an end - hot air! We are in this House because we in this House are entrusted with power by the people of Tobago. That is why we are here, Madam Presiding Officer. We are entrusted with power. This is a House where policies are made for the good governance of Tobago. Why come?  We are talking serious issues and people are joking. I heard the Minority Leader speak about some contracts given out that when added up, comes to some three hundred million dollars ($300m) dollars. That is the kind of development budget we have. How could that be shared among just a few contractors? According to him, those are from Trinidad. That is something that concerns the public. Why? It is because they have entrusted us with power and resources to get the job done on their behalf. What was the job? According to the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) mandate, the job was to empower Tobagonians. We do not want to hear about any sixty-six (66) persons working on schools. They have a right to, and if they did that, then they did it right, but forget that. What we want to know about, is the three hundred million dollars ($300m) that was placed in the hands of a few men. These are contractors -based on what I have heard, these contractors were not even listed among the Tobago contractors. Where did they come from? Again, the public wants to know. It speaks of a certain level of corruption because you have been entrusted with power and what have you done with the power? What have you done with it? Then you are going to come and say some nice, big fancy story. How is it one night you sleep; one night you wake up people to start fixing road in town? What is the urgency?

3:50 P.M

Assemblyman Watson Duke.

Madam Presiding Officer, I rose to speak in support of my   Colleague and his vision for the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and   Urban Development and by extension, Tobago. As I prepare to take my seat, I   do so with full confidence in Secretary Trevor Williamson James [Desk   thumping] and his ability to fulfil the remit of the oath taken upon his   appointment as Assemblyman and Secretary, and the mandate placed on him by   the Chief Secretary. To those on the Minority’s side: watch him   work. I advise you to stock up on Nexium and Alka-Seltzer.

We move! Are you coming with us or not?

I thank you. [Desk thumping]

Madam Presiding Officer, 45 (1), how does a ‘Tobago must   never forget’, get into an act of coiTuption; a no confidence motion?

Madam Presiding Officer, I want a ruling on 45 (1) please   - irrelevance! This is going on over twenty (20) minutes now.

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer.

Tobago, you must never, ever forget that no PNM Member of Parliament voted for Act No. 3 7 of 1980 and Act No. 40 of 1996 to allow for the establishment of the Tobago House of Assembly, Tobago must never forget the walkout of Parliament on January 2013,   led by a PNM Tobagonian... [Interruption]

Member, your speaking time is extended by a further ten   (10) minutes.

Councillor Orr, please continue.


Motion made: That the Member’s speaking time be   extended by a

further ten (10) minutes. [Hon. Chief Secretary]

Question put and agreed to.

Councillor Williams-Orr, your time has since elapsed. [Interruption]   [Crosstalk] Assemblyman Duke, please resume your seat. Thank you.

Madam Presiding   Officer, I continue.

On Monday, October 23rd, 2000, these statements were placed in the Hansard record at our National Parliament:

“However, I serve   notice that I will demand accountability at every level in Tobago, whether it   is from the Public Service or at the level of the Executive of the Tobago   House of Assembly. I will demand accountability, and for those who cannot   account, I will support any move to have the full force of the law brought to   bear on their indiscretions.”

     Madam Presiding Officer, this statement was attributed to   the current Political Leader of the PNM, the Prime Minister, Member of   Parliament for Diego Martin West:

   ‘Tn the face of all the damning opinions from the Auditor   General’s Department, on the management of the THA finances, the demand for   accountability went through the window. Nobody - it mattered to nobody on the   PNM side - not here or those across the pond - free for all season was fine; scandal after scandal after scandal.”

   Madam Presiding Officer, we have promised injections to   stimulate the orange economy here, and that should allow for a documentary  entitled “The Pirates of the Tobago House of Assembly 2001 to 2021”. [Desk thumping] [Laughter]

      Madam Presiding Officer, it is simple. The Minority’s side   is bewildered by the development that has already taken place and the   thoughts of what is to come. They are afraid. They are flattened by the bold,   ambitious moves of the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban   Development. [Desk thumping] So what do my friends on the other side   do? Resort to tainted truth, false claim and political misinformation. That   tactic will not derail the focus of the Farley Chavez Augustine led   Administration. [Desk thumping] Understand that! It will not derail   us.

     Madam Presiding Officer, permit me to remind Tobagonians -   Tobagonians listen to me! These words were spoken by the Premier, Dr. Eric   Williams, on Friday, June 07, 1957:

     “My Deputy   Speaker, ten (10) years after this resolution on the occasion of the Act of   the union, the first gross betrayal by Trinidad of its trust took place.Tobago in 1899 became the most offensive term in our political vocabulary island ward of Trinidad.”

     Therefore, for close on sixty (60) years, the Government   of Trinidad, up to this present one, none has had the opportunity of   emphasizing its neglect and underlying the betrayal of the trust imposed upon   it by the Act of the union.

     Tobago, the legacy of the PNM is never to support Tobago. The PNM attempted to frustrate the creation of this institution known as the Tobago House of Assembly. Tobago must never forget the posture of the PNM before the Joint Select Committee in 1978 and its consensus to reject the proposition of Internal Self-government for Tobago. Tobago, never forget - never!

Member, you have five (5) minutes.

3:40 P.M

As it is said in   local parlance, he ‘whined’ on the supposedly saudade Guardianship and   management of Tobago’s finances by his predecessors. The financial Integrity   of the THA was deemed to be severely compromised.

Allow me to quote:

     “What this all   means, is that the Treasury of the Tobago House of Assembly has been   mismanaged, ransacked and pillaged by reckless politicians who have shown a   peculiar dislike for even the most elemental norms of good financial   behaviour.”

     Madam Presiding   Officer:

    “Tobago was assured of a swift return to financial sanity. There was the conviction that the technical expertise, skill and goodwill  existed for the management of Tobago's finances prudently without waste   largesse and most of all, without mortgaging the future for our children and our children's children.”

     Madam Presiding Officer, true to form, promises never materialized when given by the other side. What did Tobago experienced between 2001 and December 06th, 2021? A rapid descent into the   depths of financial quagmire, buried deeply under unprecedented recklessness   and management. The Minority Leader has the gumption to come here this   afternoon, to talk about wanting support against my Colleague - allegations   of bid rigging and corruption. When did he join the People’s National Movement (PNM)? Last week? When? When did he join the PNM? Last week? [Desk   thumping]

3:30 P.M.

I would like the Minority Leader to check the archives, of the Guardian Newspaper of Tuesday, April 26th, 2022 and he will see an article which reads that:

“The Estate Management and Business Development Company (EMBD), was ordered to pay over four hundred and twenty-seven million dollars ($427m) in unpaid fees for infrastructure work it performed on four (4) residential communities for the former Caroni (1975) Limited.”

April 2022 - smoke that.

Madam Presiding Officer, bid rigging is a serious offence punishable by law. Again, I ask the question: Why come to the House? The House cannot convict the Secretary of the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development. It cannot! Is it that the Minority Leader is hoping for a political conviction instead of a criminal conviction? Again, I want to

make reference to a company the Minority Leader seems to be so in love with, and puts in the public space all the time - about this roofing company being given contracts or contract - roadwork. What the Minority Leader fails to put in the public space, is that the name of the company is Innovative, Roofing and Construction Solutions Limited.  He says that the company is just two (2) years old, but it seems as though the company was in business for a number of years and apparently there was a change of name. If that is so, there is nothing wrong with a company changing its name. If that is so wrong, I want to ask the Minority Leader now - I know people do have same names, but I want to put it on record here and ask the Minority Leader if this relates to him.

Around June, 2011, a company by the name of Hamson Entertainment Enterprise Investments, with an address of Dunveygan Road, Whim, Tobago - the name on the document is Kelvon Morris - but people do have

same name, so I do not know. The business of the company was said

to be:

  • Events Promotion Sports Bar

  1. Rental of Cars and Apartment Rooms. Fast forward to March 2017, it seems as though there was a statement of change and the name of the company now is Long Hamson Enterprises, and the nature of the business was amended to read:

  2. General Construction Equipment and Rental Services. [Desk thumping] So this person could change their name, but Innovative Roofing and Construction Solutions cannot change theirs.

Madam Presiding Officer, have the interesting documents been referred to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) - the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP)? What about the Office of the Auditor General? It may have triggered a special audit.  Has the Minority Leader written to the Fair Trading Commission to initiate an investigation?

Section 5 (1) of the Fair Trading Act, Chapter 81 (13) reads as follows:

The functions of the Commission are to:

      “(a) carry out subject to section (9), on its own initiative or at the        request of any interested person such –

             (i)  investigations in relation to the conduct of business as will enable it to determine whether any enterprise is engaging in business practices in contravention of this Act, and the extent of such practices;

          (ii)  other investigations as maybe requested by any interested person or as it may consider necessary or desirable in connection with matters falling within the provisions of the Act”.

Madam Presiding Officer, this House is for serious business regarding Tobago and its citizens. It is not for misinformation and unfounded allegations. The Minority Leader has succumbed to the temptation of making false claims but this has backfired.

The Minority Leader cannot come to this House and fabricate evidence or by any other conduct, misrepresent information to falsely accuse a Member of this House.

The creation of this headwind of misinformation and deceit is nothing new to the PNM. Madam Presiding Officer;

  1. ... “Belief in misinformation leads to poor judgments and decision-making. It also exerts a lingering influence on the person’s reasoning after it has been corrected.”

An effect known as the Continued Influence Effect - and I quoted, UKH Ecker, 2022.

Madam Presiding Officer, the Minority Leader spent his forty (40) minutes rolling out his so-called revelations, but allow me to point him to Matthew 7:3-5 from the New International version:

  1. “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’, when all the time there is a plank in your eye? You hypocrite! First, take out the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Madam Presiding Officer, while the Minority Leader is here, yarding out himself, the nation of Trinidad and Tobago is apparently

burning down under the governance of the PNM, the party he is “balisiered” under.

Allow me to quote from the Daily Express of Monday, February 13th, 2023, Editorial Headline - Unaccountable Leadership - and quickly:

“The latest prominent example of the State’s double standard when it comes to following rules involves the Strategic Services Agency (SSA) which has been flouting the law for the past 12 years by failing to submit annual financial statements … in the Parliament.”

“Over the 12-year period the SSA spent roughly one point nine billion dollars ($1.9b) with another two hundred and forty-three million dollars ($243m) allocated to it for 2023. The fact that this has occurred across two (2) different administrations leave neither the Government nor the Opposition with any moral authority to complain.”

And I go down further:

  1. “The State has even been known to intervene in cases where one of its own should have been made to answer and account, as in the matter involving the late Petrotrin chairman, Malcolm Jones who presided over the failure of the State-owned company’s failed billion-dollar investment in the Gas-to-Liquids plant.  Given the huge consequences of the GTL failure, the public interest required a thorough and transparent airing of the matter, whether or not it rose to the level of guilt.”

So, if the Minority Leader, Madam Presiding Officer, is a true anti-corruption champion; if he is a solid voice crying in the wilderness against wrong, I dare him to comment upon national issues of corruption that have caused more than the raising of an eyebrow especially when it wreaks of anyone close or is associated with the PNM. What is your position, Mr. Minority Leader? Speak! Talk up loudly and let the nation hear you.

Madam Presiding Officer, corrupt practices and the PNM are like the subject and verb in a sentence - complete! [Desk thumping] Madam Presiding Officer, we are talking about corruption - let us go.

In 2001, a former Chief Secretary of this Tobago House of Assembly, went to great lengths to identify the serious shortcomings in the THA’s finances as inherited from the previous administration.

Members, I am not going to allow that type of language inside here. This is a sacred House and we are about the people's business. Please be reminded of that.

     Thank you.

     Councillor Orr, continue.

We will stay focused on the task before us to make Tobago "the greatest little island on the planet’. [Desk thumping] Madam Presiding Officer, I am convinced that this Motion is not about love and care for Tobago, neither its   people nor the public purse. Madam Presiding Officer, I am prepared to delve beneath the surface and propose that the underlying factor at play here, is  the fear of the loss of the two (2) Tobago seats in the 2025 General  Elections. [Desk thumping]

     The Motion for me, is the initial preparation of the   groundwork deployed here; is to mash this up and hope for a repeat of the   results that happened when the votes were counted in 2015. False accusation   is a political tool to steal elections, but let me remind those on the other   side, that fair elections are a foundation of our democracy.

       Madam Presiding  Officer, allow me to strip down this Motion:

     “WHEREAS   there is a public concern about the allegations of bid rigging and corruption within the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development.”

Bid rigging is   defined - and my Colleague, Secretary Dr. Faith B.Yisrael gave the definition   as contained in Section 4 of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public   Property Act. In addition, Section 17 (2) of the Fair Trading Act, Chapter 81:13, Act of 2006, it is clearly stated:

“That any decision or concerted practice of an association of Enterprises, the object of which is the prevention, restriction or   distortion of competition, is anti-competitive and prohibited under  this Act.”

A full definition of anti-competitive agreement is contained in Section 17(1) (a) to (e) of the said Act. Minority Leader you get some homework. You did not know about this.

     Madam Presiding Officer, public concern. How is public defined?How is public concern explained? Where did the information that formed the premise of this Motion come from? Where can I as a resident of Tobago, go to acquaint myself with this supposedly body of allegation?

Where? Is the   source credible? Is the author an expert? Is the information up to date? Is there an unbiased analysis of the topic?

     Madam Presiding Officer, fake profiles on social media   platforms, do not count as credible sources. [Desk thumping] They do   not count. The Minority Leader has failed to convince this House that the   facts placed on record this afternoon are proof of what the Motion alleges.

     “AND  WHEREAS the Secretary of infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development knew or ought to have known about these allegations of corruption;”

      Madam Presiding Officer, it is routine law that he who alleges must prove. The Minority Leader seems to have forgotten that he must   bear the burden of proof - not the Secretary of the Division of   Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development. Can the Minority Leader   categorically state whether he personally or directly or indirectly brought   these allegations to the attention of the Secretary of the Division? Where is   the paper trail that evidence this? Where is the whistle blower information?   Was anything dropped in your mailbox - nothing! Madam Presiding Officer, it   is safe to say that failure continues to attach itself to the Minority   Leader. [Desk thumping] The attempt to emphatically link the Secretary   to the knowledge of the allegations have fallen flat like a dose of Andrews Liver Salt. [Desk thumping] [Laughter]

     “AND WHEREAS the Secretary’s conduct in relation of the allegations,   raises questions about his suitability to conduct the Affairs of the people of Tobago and hold public office.”

     Minority Leader, I say through you, Madam Presiding Officer, conduct is said to be the manner in   which a person behaves, especially in a particular place or situation. If the   Minority Leader is unable to provide proof that the Secretary was acutely aware, or he was informed of these so-called   allegations, what conduct or behavior is expected? The Secretary is not a mad   man. In fact, the Minority Leader’s incoherent presentation this afternoon,   seems to suggest, that he might be the one unsuitable to conduct the affairs   of the people of Tobago, and therefore, hold public office. [Desk   thumping]

     Madam Presiding Officer, the Minority Leader came to this House seeking the affirmation of a position of no confidence in the ability of my Colleague, the Secretary for the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development. But Madam Presiding Officer, I asked the question, “why the House?” Is it because the Minority Leader is cognizant of the fact that a presentation based on lies,   smears, innuendos and half-truths, will not lead to persecution; that he will  be safe from legal consequences? If the Minority Leader is in possession of these so-called interesting documents which are truthful and deserving of the  public's attention, then he does notneed the privilege of this House. He does not need the cover of this House. He could spew the facts on Minority reports; he could call the media to any space private or public and share the information. No, but just like May 20th, 2013, the Parliamentary privilege is brazenly abused to launch a cowardly attack.

     Madam Presiding  Officer, the Minority Leader went at length tocastigate a Company called Namalco.

3:20 P.M.

     Madam Presiding Officer, the 2010 to 2015 Administration was promised by the Political Leader of the PNM, that it would be hounded out of office. No cooperation was to be expected. So Madam Presiding Officer, I looked at the Motion placed before this House, and in my opinion, the similarity is very startling. The shocking, brazen abuse of parliamentary privilege is being used here to make grossly reckless statements by the other side. Madam Presiding Officer, if there is a lack of energy for day or night on the Minority’s side, it is not so on this side. [Desk thumping] If   there is a lack of energy for day or night on the Minority’s side, it is not so on this side. We will stay focused to the tasks... [Interruption]

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer.  A good inning starts with the first step down the steps of the pavilion, and as I walked out of the proverbial pavilion into the centre of play this afternoon, I first want to thank the Honourable Farley Chavez Augustine, Chief Secretary, for the confidence placed in me, by allowing me to serve on his team. I hope that I would make many good innings during this period. [Desk thumping]

Madam Presiding Officer, on May 20th, 2013, a tornado touched down near Chickasha, Oklahoma, and began to intensify swiftly. By the time it hit the City of Moore, the wind speed was over two hundred (200) miles per hour and the spread was a mile wide.  Several persons died and the catastrophe was severe. Now, while the eyes of the people of the United States of America was focused on that, the eyes of the citizens of this nation, Trinidad and Tobago, were ribbitted on events taking place in our national Parliament. On that Monday afternoon, the MP for Diego Martin West and the then Leader of the Opposition, rose in Parliament and waved a sheaf of documents and said they anonymously received a package of about thirty-one (31) emails that supposedly implicated Members of the then government in criminal conspiracy. That email thread was dated September, 2012. In this nation, we know it as the famous “email gate”, and we know how that ended.

Madam Presiding Officer, fast forward to 2023, a decade - and before I go there, let me say that revelation came almost at the midpoint of the term of the Administration that was in government.  At that time - pay attention. Madam Presiding Officer, fast forward to 2023, a decade later and not far from the midpoint of the term of this Administration led by Honourable Farley Chavez Augustine, the Minority Leader has come to this House with this Motion.

Madam Presiding Officer, my political memory is not impeded. In fact, it is still sharp, and I am reminded of the words of Sir Walter Scott -Marmion:

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” [Desk thumping.]

May 2013; February 2023, what inference can be drawn here? Is there a parallel? I say standard PNM styling and strategy. [Desk thumping].

Councillor Williams-Orr. [Desk thumping]....

I am sorry, Mr. Duke, Councillor Orr caught my eyes first.

 Thank you very much, Madam Presiding Officer.

It is important for Tobagonians to also recognize that at this very juncture where we are trying to explain a critical point, that is (again): highlighting the fact that you should never believe another word that comes out of the Minority Leader’s mouth. It is the exact point that he tries to disturb us so that the average Tobagonian does not hear what is being said. [Desk thumping]

Madam Presiding Officer, it is important to note that what was outlined in this Motion we are yet to see the evidence of the bid rigging; we are yet to see the evidence of the corruption that they are talking about; we are yet to see the facts that are supposed to be in the public domain. I will end where I started and indicate to those of you in the Minority, that if you do in fact have the evidence that you are speaking about, please let us not waste the State’s time by sitting here and debating about it. Please, let us wrap up the debate now to allow those of you in the Minority to walk over to the police station to hand that evidence over to those who can do something.

Even more - because if you are talking about public servants, for example, I do not know that we can just decide that we are going to fire a public servant-but can do even more than just that. So, Madam Presiding Officer, I will wrap up by indicating to the people of Tobago, that what has been happening within the Divisions that we lead, is us actually trying to follow the law, and trying to follow even the law that the Members on the other side - their colleagues refused to make it the actual law of Trinidad and Tobago, and because of that, Madam Presiding Officer, we are not going to support this Motion at all - not at all. It does not make sense and we will not be a part. We will not actively participate in the Minority Council trying to hoodwink Tobagonians, to take the resources of Tobago and place it back into the hands of those who are their friends and family.

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer. [Desk thumping]

The relevance is that she is detailing the modes of procurement. She is still on that. It is aligned to it.

Assemblyman B.Yisrael, you have five (5) minutes.

Madam Presiding Officer, the question I am asking is -the relevance.

 Members. Minority Leader, this is your Motion, and this is a response to your Motion ... [Interruption]

3:10 P.M.

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer. Even though that company was actually doing that work for the People’s National Movement (PNM) led Tobago House of Assembly (THA) for all of those years, they were actually not registered with the Procurement Unit in Tobago, [Desk thumping] the same Unit that the Minority Leader was saying, Madam Presiding Officer, that was placed there to put a buffer between the politician and the Procurement Unit, and all of that. This company that was used all of those years was not registered. They were in fact only registered in 2022, last year, when we came into office, Madam Presiding Officer. [Desk thumping] We realized that if the law says to work with the THA, you have to be registered with the Procurement Control Office (PCO), because this is the only company in Trinidad and Tobago, (and heaven knows probably in the Caribbean) that is doing it, that they must be registered with the PCO before we use them, Madam Presiding Officer.

When I say to the Tobago people that you all have to be so careful - because if you only listen to the Minority Leader, who for the very last how many months have been talking about this very same company, you would believe that the Secretary with responsibility for Education had done something wrong…[Interruption]

I would like to hear the Member’s response please.

3:00 P.M

What does that   mean? The contractor has to do the design; the contractor has to build; but   most importantly, the contractor has to put out their own money and we will   pay them back long, long, long after, because the Colleagues of the Minority   in Trinidad do not want to give us the money that we are asking for. [Desk   thumping] So we do not have the money [Desk thumping] because of   that - and the Secretary with responsibility for Infrastructure has said it   so many times. When you look at the number of contractors in Tobago who have   the capacity to put out nineteen or how much ever million dollars without   getting a cent from us, and wait eighteen (18) months before they get a cent   from us, we have already limited the pool down to practically nothing. If we   are honest, (because I hear you all keep talking about this thing about South   of Trinidad contractors) with ourselves in the Tobago space. I mean, apart   from your good friends and families, the average contractor in Tobago I know,   the ones who are now coming up - because this is the only time they have   actually had an opportunity to come up. [Desk thumping] None of   them do not have that kind of money to put out. All of them - when they are   coming to put out; coming and telling you that they want a contract and they   want the opportunity to do this, the first thing they ask you is, “How much   is the mobilization fee?” They do not even have the one thousand dollars ($ 1,000) fee, the ten thousand dollars ($10,000); the hundred thousand dollars  ($100,000) to buy the material to start the work. That is because for the  last twenty something years, only a select few [Desk thumping] had the  opportunity to develop. So yes, we have situations in Tobago where we have to  go out beyond who is here in Tobago. As the Secretary for Education just whispered, sixty-six (66). All of the school repairs, that everybody burst up  their faces about last year, of the sixty-seven (67) contractors that were employed, sixty-six (66) [Desk thumping] were from right here. [Crosstalk]  I am going to talk about the one (1).

     What is important to note though, is that again, before in   2020, whenever that was with the whole Calcutta ship - now it just seems like   - I mean you all just have enough sense to not use that word, and 2017, 2020,   2021, when you were making the connection to the Progressive Democratic   Patriot (PDP) and the United National Congress (UNC) - and it is the   downright racist nature [Desk thumping] of your organization. Do you know what? I would actually have a little more respect for them, Madam   Presiding Officer, if they said it with their chest. Yes, we are talking race and we are big and we are bold to say is race that we are talking. Do not try   to couch it about South of the Caroni and Penal, and environs. If you all are   racist, just be man about it; be racist. It is okay; be man enough about it;   do not try to couch it like that.

     Madam Presiding   Officer, allow me to go on.

     Picture six (6), (and I actually would not be very, very   long) deals with single source procurement, and there are two (2) types. It   is a non­competitive, meaning we are not going out and asking people for any   bid, so it is a non-competitive way of getting goods and services. We have   two (2) kinds - single and sole.

      By the way, having   spoken to the Secretary, I have asked him, what kinds of procurement are used  in the Division with responsibility for Infrastructure? I said wait, have you all ever done any sole or single? The response was ‘No’. So what they were doing was ‘open or select;’ ‘open or select’, so not even this. If you listen   to those on the other side - and that is why I am telling Tobagonians you   have to pay very close attention; do not allow them to hoodwink you. You would assume that what the Secretary is doing, is only sole. He has stood here multiple times and said to the Minority Leader, “You are using the wrong term; you do not know what you are talking about”.   We are now at the point where we are now convinced that it is not because he   does not know, but he is being wilful; he is being deliberate, and he is   trying to hoodwink Tobagonians, but let us not go there.

     Single source refers to engaging one (1) selected supplier or contractor even though there may be other suppliers or contractors. Sole   source means that that company is the only company that is doing whatever the   thing is. So do not even waste your time to say you are going out and ask for   other people because it is the only company, Madam Presiding Officer, that is   doing what you are doing.

      This takes me, Madam Presiding Officer, to the question that is asked to the Secretary of Education probably ten (10) times by now; probably   ten (10) times by now. Today again, we are talking about the same   story again; we are talking about the same story, hoping that it would stick.   But no, remember we said that - us - the contracts for the school repair (you   may have left Mr. Minority Leader). Through you, Madam Presiding Officer,when we indicated   that during the School Repair Programme - there were sixty-seven (67)   contractors that were a part of that process, and sixty-six (66) of those   were from Tobago - [Interruption] [Laughter] ninety-nine point nine   eight, (99.98) good, and the single contractor that is the Trinidad   contractor. I do not know if it is the South of Caroni or not, but it is the   single non Tobago contractor that the Minority Leader keeps asking about   every opportunity he gets, is one that fits into that one which is the sole -   the sole select method - sole source. Why is that the case? Because it seems   like this is the only company in all of Trinidad and Tobago, that is doing   that kind of work. The only company (‘AVICON’, that is what I am talking   about) that is doing that kind of work.

     By the way, it is important to know, Madam Presiding   Officer, that even though those in the Minority are trying to give the   impression that this is the first time that company has been used, it is not   true. That company has been used,   again, because it is the only company that is doing that kind of roofing or   whatever it is, (the sealant) and they have been working in all of these   schools in Tobago for years. Yes, it is important to state that fact. Even   though this company, Madam Presiding Officer, has been doing that work for   years, I have information about 2020 and 2021, and all of that; 2018 and all   of those years. Remember we were not there during that period, Madam   Presiding Officer. Even though they were doing that work, Madam Presiding Officer, what we recognized, is that because the Secretary with  responsibility for Education, her administrators, the procurement team and so   forth at that time... [Interruption]


All his Colleagues in Trinidad need to do, is to state to the President, “We have done our part; we have gone through the entire process; you simply need to put your signature on this piece of legislation and say, it is now law”. Why have your Colleagues not done that, Mr. Minority Leader? That question needs to be answered. If we are really part of this entity that wants to follow all of the rules and so forth, since 2021, that could have been a law in Trinidad and Tobago - but no, your Colleagues are the ones holding it up.

Madam Presiding Officer, I have sat in this House at this very spot over the last couple months, and I have heard the Minority Leader and his Colleagues - Minority Leader 1 and 2, and Minority Councillor, claimed things that are simply not true. They are trying to use fancy words that the aim is to confuse the average member of the public, because the average member of the public does not understand all of this procurement story. As recently, because honestly, it is not my field; it is not my expertise, and within my Division, the Procurement Unit does what they have to do and then the report comes to me to sign off to say, “Okay, this person is the one who won the process”.

So, I am going to take a little bit of time, Madam Presiding Officer, to explain to the people of Tobago, why you should never ever believe anything that comes out of the mouths of any of those Members on the Minority side because they are trying to hoodwink you. [Desk thumping]

Picture 2, please. I am going to use this document [Indicating] which is the general guidelines that is developed and created by the Office of Procurement Regulations. These are the people who should be managing the process once his Colleagues on the other side make this the law, so, we are going to be pulling from this document. I know that when we bring documents they ask: By the way, where is it coming from? By the way, it

may be worth, Mr. Minority Leader, to let us know exactly who is the

a matter of fact, I did not understand this procurement story up until very Quantity Surveyor (QS) you are talking about and the qualifications of the QS you are talking about, so that we are sure that you are actually talking about a qualified person who knows what they are doing and can provide the information you are claiming they are providing. [Desk thumping]

Picture No. 3, please. Madam Presiding Officer, I want to start at the introduction of this document, and the introduction of this document includes a paragraph that says these guidelines provide details on a number of procurement methods and techniques.

I specifically put it there because I want you to see the long list of procurement methods and techniques that are considered lawful and legal in Trinidad and Tobago, and the reason I am putting it there, is because when you listen to the Minority, they are giving the impression that what is happening within the procurement units are actually illegal, when in fact,

these are the options.

We have:

  •  Open bidding;

  •  Limited bidding;

  •  Request for quotations;

  •  Requests for proposals without negotiation;

  •  Two-stage bidding;

  •  Request for proposals with dialogue;

  • Request for proposals with consecutive negotiations.

You keep talking about a letter that has a certain date.

  •  Request for proposals with negotiations;

and others will speak about that as we get to it.

  • Competitive negotiations;

  •  Single-source procurement and;

  •  Sole source procurement.

I put it up there because [Indicating] I want you to see this is not from me. I do not really know anything about procurement. This is from the Regulators.

When we follow these guidelines, it means that we are actually even following the rules that his Colleagues have not even made the law yet, because heaven knows what they are waiting for in Trinidad.

Madam Presiding Officer, let us start with open bidding. Picture No. 4, please. Open bidding is what I thought of when I thought of procurement, and it actually took a while for me to recognize that this is not the only method of procurement out there, but it is what the Minority seems to think; it is the only method of procurement, and what is that?

It is as it says:

“Procurement that is based on an invitation that is advertised publicly, either nationally, or even further, where any appropriate company has the opportunity to submit their proposals, submit that and have that be weighed.”

That means - we want to do a road, we say, yes, we want to do a road and

everybody can bid to do the road. It means though, Madam Presiding Officer, that the procurement unit would then have to sit down and review all of the bids. So if one hundred (100) bids come in, they have to sit down and review the hundred bids that come in. That is one (1) method, Madam Presiding Officer.

Allow me though to talk about some of the other methods that are legal and lawful. That other one is known as limited bidding and that is picture 5. I underlined some things in limited bidding because I thought it is important for us to review exactly what it says, and again, this is not from me, this is from the Regulators:

“A procuring entity engages in limited bidding when it does not publicly advertise the procurement opportunity as in the case of open bidding.  (So it does not publicly put it out for everybody to see.)

In this regard, invitations to bid are issued directly to a selected number of bidders either through market research…”

So the procurement people or whoever, look around and say, “Okay, we want to do this particular thing. Let us look to see who are the companies doing that particular thing and let us send the request directly to them”. Again, it is not Dr. Faith “who says that; it is the Regulators. When can something like this be used?

“(a) If the goods, works or services by reason of their high complexed or specialized nature are available only by a limited number.

(So if it is only a certain set of people doing it, there is no point in going out to everybody. You send it to those certain set of people who you know are doing it);

(b) The time and cost required to examine and evaluate a large number of bids would be disproportionate to the value of the goods, works or services to be procured.”

So, we are going and do something that cost a little bit of money.   It “ain’t mek” no sense to send it out to all and sundry and then have to spend a month going through a hundred (100) proposals because the thing is only what – a fifty thousand (50,000) or a hundred thousand (100,000), or whatever it is.  That is a normal, legal method of doing procurement or, it could be on the other end of the spectrum, and this is one that we talk about all the time.

I am so sick and tired of talking about these contracts for these roads where we did “design, build and finance”.

Thank you, Madam  Presiding Officer.

It is difficult for me, Madam Presiding Officer, to sit here and to listen to the Member on the other side, do something that I thought, coming out of the campaign season, they would have stopped doing. That, Madam Presiding Officer, is to continue using misinformation,disinformation and blatant untruths to try to hoodwink the people of Tobago.

     I recognized though, that within a little over a year,   those of us in the Executive Council have actually done quite a decent job of   developing the island, and as a result, those on the minority, are willing to use every trick in their book [Desk thumping] to try to cheat Tobagonians out of the kind of development that would take this island to really being ‘the greatest little island on the plane". [Desk   thumping] I am asking Tobagonians to pay very close attention to what is being said, and to pay very close attention to the fact that what they are trying to do, is to take away the collective, holistic development of this   island and place the resources of this island right back into the hands of   those who held close over the last twenty something years, when they were in   power.

     Madam Presiding Officer, I would like to take a little bit   of time to highlight to us, some of the things that the Minority Leader and   the Minority Councillor have been trying to say to Tobagonians that are not   legal, and we are using all of these processes that are not part of what is  written on the books, and claiming things like ‘bid rigging’ and  ‘corruption’.

     Let us start, Madam Presiding Officer, with that concept   known as ‘bid rigging’. Could you please put up the slides? [Indicating]  Thank you. I am going to quote directly from the law and I am actually going to put up highlights of the law so that this is not Dr. Faith B. Yisrael speaking; this is what the law actually says. Now, what is on the screen, there is a portion of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property Amendment Act. Now, it states   that ‘bid rigging’ is collusive price fixing and anti-competitive behaviour   that is designed into unfairly influence the outcome of a competitive tender process in favour of one (1) or more bidders.

     Now, I listened to the Minority Leader on television a little   earlier this week, and I heard the Minority Leader indicate that he had all   of this evidence that bid rigging had happened, and evidence that corruption  had happened, so I was really sitting here, waiting to see the evidence that all of this was happening. I am yet to see the evidence that this is happening.But I will go a step further, Madam Presiding Officer, and   indicate that if in fact what he is claiming is actually happening, he should not  use the cover of this House to speak about it, but he should definitely take   all of the evidence that he has (not even outside) [Desk thumping]  Madam Presiding Officer. I am suggesting that we actually halt this Sitting right now   and allow the Minority Leader to go over to the Police Station [Desk thumping] to provide his evidence of bid rigging.

     Now, it is important to note, Madam Presiding Officer,   that the amended Act that I was just talking about, that I just referenced,   is actually one of many amendments that have happened to that Procurement Act. What is funny, Madam Presiding Officer, is that his Colleagues in the Government in Trinidad, are the ones that actually have this Procurement Legislature at a standstill [Desk thumping] refusing to say to the President, please, proclaim this legislature to make it law.

      As a matter of fact, in July 2021, the Minister of Finance stated that he had actually placed the ten (10) individual regulations that   were required to make this law a law, since July 2021 - we are now in   February, 2023.

Is there a seconder for this Motion?

Minority Councillor.

Motion seconded by Councillor Petal Daniel-Benoit.

Question proposed.

Assemblyman Dr. Faith B.Yisrael, you may now join the debate.

I thank you, Madam Presiding Officer. Please allow me to please move this Motion that stands in my name.

I thank you. [Desk thumping]

Minority Leader, your  time has since elapsed.

2:40 P.M

      Madam Presiding Officer, because the sum of a man is by   his deeds - and this is the same man that also hired his brother on a Board   for a Division, for which have oversight for that very same Board - that is   the SPEL Board. This is the same man that also puts his wife on a Board while   he is sitting there in the Executive Council. This is the same man I am   advised, that was suspended by the Division of Settlements because he in fact   awarded three (3) contracts without the Administrator’s approval, and he had   to resign in disgrace.

No problem. Not even in the Division - nowhere.

Madam Presiding Officer, I want the Secretary to explain what was in the public domain - and this is how bid rigging occurs because bid rigging is when you have partners sharing up deals.  So one partner is able to call the next partner and say, “Boy, I give up that, you go in”. Clearly, food for thought.

I also want to - because the response I received, triggered a response from a contractor. The contractor wrote to every Member. I am sure you all received a copy of this letter from Kai Engineering and Construction, and he is basically saying to us-

The second inaccuracy is to give the impression that the tender documents were obtained in a timely manner or was sincerely given.

The company received one tender request three (3) days before it was due to be completed and submitted. The company was given woefully insufficient time to submit a tender. Therefore, as a matter of fact, no bids were submitted by the company on or before the closing date for this project. Furthermore, the company did not participate in the tender for the named projects.

So the company did not participate and the company is also saying - in fact, pre-qualifications of contractors were stipulated as required only for the award of contract.

So, none of these companies that got contracts (it is important to note) were part of the pre-qualified list of contractors in Tobago. So where did you all find these contractors? How did you all get to these contractors? How did you all pre-select these contractors if they were not in the list of contractors of the Tobago House of Assembly?

Madam Presiding Officer, Kai is also saying:

“We believe the statement by Trevor James to the Assembly Legislature, gives the impression that Kai Engineering & Construction Limited was a willing and active participant in a fair and transparent tendering process.”

This is untrue! The contractor is now saying through his lawyers,

that the process was never fair, was never transparent, and he himself did not participate. Once again - misled.

I want to put it on record, that I will be bringing a motion of privilege that this Secretary deliberately misled this House for us to believe there was a procurement process that was true.

Madam Presiding Officer, we talked about the inflated cost; we talked about the misleading statements and all of that. Madam Presiding Officer, as I close, I want to remind us as well, that this matter as advised, infringes on specific portions of the laws of Trinidad and Tobago, specifically section 5 (1) of the Integrity in Public Life Act and section 4 (a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act Chapter 11:11.

Madam Presiding Officer, it is my intention to pursue these avenues to its fullest extent, and as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of this august Chamber, I intend to write to the Auditor General, seeking their intervention in having an independent audit into the award of these contracts.

Minority Leader, you have five (5) more minutes.

2:30 P.M.

     Do you know what? We had two (2) Carnivals – we had one (1) in October and we just had one (1) in February, and we were without two (2) and a half of the roads. Do you know what? Carnival came, Carnival went and we are still intact. Yet, we were told that we absolutely needed those roads, and therefore, they had to create a kind of procurement rush, but that was simply to facilitate a corrupt procurement process - nothing else, because what the facts are now showing, is that we did not really need the roads. The roads were not really urgent. There was absolutely no emergency.

     Madam Presiding Officer, action No. 4: this Secretary has been running, hiding, dodging - every attempt to get information about these roads. Madam Presiding Officer, I have searched far and wide. I have come here and have asked questions, and I have been made to let people believe that I do not know what I am talking about, and in some respect, they tried to make me look as if I am dotish, but I did not stop. I kept digging and I kept digging. I even utilized the Freedom of Information Act.

     Madam Presiding Officer, and do you know what? Up to now - if this process is so transparent, if this process is so clear and concise, why cannot I after three months, get answers to the very simple questions that I have asked? What was the contract sum? What was the process? Who were the persons that evaluated the bid? You said that forty-five percent (45%) of the requirement to qualify for the build, design, finance contract - you had to show financial capacity. I am asking to let us see the financial capacity, because my information is that the same contractor you have given the fifty-four million dollars ($54m) contract to, up to now, cannot start the work because he does not have the money. How did he get the contract? How? If the forty-five percent (45%), which is almost half the technical requirement, requires that you have financial capacity, how does a contractor get a contract, but yet he cannot start the work?

     Secretary, I really, really hope and I look forward to you explaining

how. I have asked it; I have begged for it and I still cannot get it.

     Secretary, I have asked you, what was the process? You had the Chief Secretary again misled, and the Chief Secretary singing from your same hymn book, telling us that it involved a pool of over forty (40) contractors. I cannot see pool, I cannot see sea - no list with forty (40) contractors. What I received was a letter; a response that says it involved six (6) contractors, and I want to read quickly because the time is going.  It involved three (3) to six (6) contractors - part A. Part B - it listed eight (8) contractors. So, it involved three (3) to six (6), but in part C, you listed eight (8). Part C, you told us that Milford Road - you gave it to Innovative. You told us Dutch Fort - you gave it to California. You told us Lammy Road - you gave it to Construction Services and road 4, Shirvan - you gave it to Namalco. Do you know what the Secretary did not tell us in that? That he also gave the Dutch Fort Road to Namalco. He failed in his response to indicate that the contract that was given to California Stucco, was first given to Namalco and I want to go into that real quick. What you would recognize, is a letter coming from California Stucco. He wrote on the 3rdOctober, and he is saying (not to the Procurement Manager) to the Project Director - so he writes to the Project Director. I do not know how Project Director controls procurement, but he is writing and he is saying:

“We are writing to notify you that it has come to our attention through the public domain…”

     I want to ask anybody in here right now, which one of you knew that Namalco was awarded the contract for Dutch Fort, and which one of you knew that Namalco then relinquished their interest in this Dutch Fort project? Who in here knew and tell me what was the mode; what platform you got that information from? As far as I know, I have searched and it is not on facebook; it is not on the Division’s website; it is not in the newspaper.

2:20 P.M

They all - everyone of them must face the consequences,   but there must be a process, and there is a dictate in law, that innocent until proven guilty. As far as I understand, none of those contractors have been found guilty (unless you the Members of this Executive have information to the contrary) none of them have been found guilty. Therefore, they have an equal right to whatever resources in Tobago. The hypocrisy is, that while this Secretary  single handedly sidelined and blacklisted Tobago based contractors, he was awarding contracts to a company called, “Namalco”. Have you all ever heard of Namalco? Namalco, in this process of the roads, received two (2) contracts. I want to share with you very quickly - let me see if I can find it. There is an article on Namalco - but ‘long story short’, one of those companies named, was taken to court by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for (hear what) the very things that I am accusing the Division of Infrastructure of.   That company was taken to court on the premise that they were involved in bid   rigging. Doesn’t that sound familiar people? Doesn’t that sound like the very   same allegations being laid at the feet of this Secretary and his Division,   that they would have been involved in this surreptitious, clandestine, evil   action to defraud the people of Tobago by pulling together a handful of   contractors and awarding contracts. There is a saying, it is by no accident   that Namalco ended up in this mix, because "bird of the same feather,   always fly high together’. So it is no accident that a company with the   kind of character such as Namalco, would find its way in this bid rigging   scandal that is happening down at the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries   and Urban Development.

    Madam Presiding Officer, it is important to note this   action No. 2 that was taken. This action No. 2, not only dealt a blow to the  contractors, but it dealt a blow to the people of Tobago. This Secretary  eloquently explained it. He told us when he was outside the Chamber, when he was looking to get in,   that when you deprive Tobagonians of opportunities and you take those very   opportunities and ship them elsewhere, what your strategic intent is in fact   doing, is developing an economy outside of Tobago. Yet, for some curious reason, this Secretary embarked on a process to award road paving contracts   that Tobagonians can do, and somehow found a way to eliminate every Tobagonian with the capacity, every Tobagonian with the experience and find   Trinidadians. What is curious about this, Madam Presiding Officer, is that   the persons he found were not persons engaged in typical road paving; not the Junior Sammy; not the Kallco; not those contractors. This Secretary found a   contractor; do you know what is their name? “Innovative Roofing”, a roof contractor. Of all the contracts that he could have given to the roof   contractor; contractor of two (2) years establishment; a contractor that never even paved his driveway; of all the contracts that could have been   awarded to this contractor, is the largest   one - fifty-four million dollars ($54m). When I did my comparative analysis -   just one phase of this fifty-four million dollars ($54m), do you know what I   found? I took the rates that the Division was paying during the past   Administration and I compared it to the very rates that were accepted by the   contractor. Just imagine, something as simple - I want to read it. We are   looking at road paving, and it says, “To supply, place and install asphalt mix and bitumen roadway - fifty (50) millimetres”. Under the previous Administration, for the very same thing: to supply, place, install asphalt  mix and bitumen, they were paying one thousand, four hundred dollars ($1,400). Do you know what this Administration, under the direction of the   Secretary, accepted per ton? He accepted a bid of two thousand, five hundred dollars ($2,500). That is almost doubled what was being paid under the  previous Administration. When you look at the price difference that is three point five million dollars ($3.5m). That is five hundred (500) Tobagonians who could have been working five (5) days on, five (5) days off.

     Madam Presiding Officer, I want to go further because when   you look at what it cost - because he had challenged me to get a Quantity   Surveyor (QS). Every time I drove on that road - I am no road expert; I am no   technical person, but just my layman - knowing my constituency and knowing my   district - I am passing the road; some parts are paved - some parts are not   paved. I said, “But wait, where is this nineteen million dollars ($19m)  coming from?”. I looked and I saw two (2) culverts - basic like a deck pan -   nothing special about the road. You cut a little way in, between Smithfield   No. 1 crossing over to Smithfield No. 2 - one little area. I was so happy   when I saw the little piece of asphalt going up to the woman’s hill. When I   reached half way, asphalt done - dirt road again. So I said let me get   somebody who is an expert on these matters. I sent them the Bill of Quantities (BOQ) of   what was accepted. I also got someone to measure the road, and to my   amazement, this contract was awarded for nineteen point four eight million   dollars ($ 19.48m). Do you know what was the QS’s estimate? Subtotal VAT   exclusive, six million, six hundred and forty-six thousand, six hundred and   forty-six dollars ($6,646,646.00) - VAT inclusive, seven million, four   hundred and seventy-seven thousand, four hundred and seventy-six dollars and   seventy-five cents ($7,477,476.75).

     Madam Presiding Officer, that is a difference of over eleven million dollars ($11m). Do you know what we could have done with   eleven million dollars ($11m)? Chief Secretary, everyday I hear you bawling that you do not have any money, but look, your Secretary over there -   siphoning away our money - eleven million dollars ($1 lm). These are things  for us to cry, Madam Presiding Officer - cry!

     Madam Presiding Officer, action No. 3: we were told about   these roads, and they gave the impression, (I do not know if he misled the   Chief Secretary, but he had the Chief Secretary saying it as well) that we absolutely needed those roads because they were emergencies

2:10 P.M

Subsequently in October, I came across a letter of award issued to one of these same contractors which revealed, that it took the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development less than twenty-four hours. I want to repeat that. It took the Division of Infrastructure less than twenty-four hours. Bid closed at 1.30 p.m., and the contractor received the letter of award by the following day, and on top of that, by the Saturday, Sabbath morning, the contractor was busy breaking down the fence of the Scarborough Roman Catholic School unknowing to my good friend, the Secretary of Education. They did not even have a clue that a contractor was mobilized on one of her schools nor Orlando did not know, and this caused an outrage. This contractor was pre-mobilized, ready - and we are talking about a contractor that was in Trinidad, but yet, all his materials, his trucks, and everything was already in Tobago – ready to do the work. And the question we have to ask is: How did he know he was going to get the work,to be mobilized, to be ready, to end up at the Scarborough R.C., breaking down the people’s fence? How? I hope you answer that.

     Madam Presiding Officer, you would also recall that subsequently, the political leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM), via a press conference, carefully detailed and outlined a series of corrupt and questionable activities that were at play in the award of these contracts, leading him to conclude that corruption is a ‘runaway horse’ in the THA Infrastructure Division.

     Madam Presiding Officer, these matters outlined, goes against the very grain of who we are as proud and honest Tobagonians. It deprives citizens of the island of an equal opportunity, to access and to participate in the development of this space and its economy, and there are also serious infractions of the laws of Trinidad and the laws of Tobago.

     Madam Presiding Officer, these allegations are supported by hard and irrefutable documentary information which clearly demonstrates that persons in and out of the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development colluded via a series of deliberate, careful and unlawful actions to surreptitiously and clandestinely fix price and engage in anti-competitive behaviours designed to unfairly influence the outcome of a procurement process as to control the award of contracts to specific contractors, while at the same time creating a moorage to make the process appear to be fair and competitive on paper, when in fact, the outcome was already predetermined.

      Madam Presiding Officer, having clearly substantiated the allegations of corruption and bid rigging in the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development, one may rightfully inquire, what the Secretary has to do with that? Why are you picking on the Secretary? My simple response is, well, why not the Secretary? Why leave the Secretary out when we understand that the Secretary ultimately is responsible for the direction and control of his Division. And we praise the Secretary when good things happen. Of course, I am sure Members are well lined up to come and praise the Secretary here today. I am saying in the same breath when nonsense happen, when corrupt activities happen, we also must hold the Secretary responsible.

     Madam Presiding Officer, you see for corruption to prevail, there must be enabling actors willing to facilitate and participate in these corrupt activities, and therefore, I carefully will demonstrate the means and actions undertaken by this Secretary, to facilitate the corrupt award of contracts to favoured contractors at hyperinflated cost, defrauding the people of Tobago and mortgaging away the future of Tobago with no care for the generation of young Tobagonians to come.

      Act No. 1 - This Secretary bypassed the established procurement systems of the Tobago House of Assembly, and we know in and around 2017, the Tobago House of Assembly created something called the Procurement Control Office. This office is managed by the Chief Administrator, and this was deliberately done as to provide a buffer between the policymaker and the accounting officer. And it was also done to give the procurement process a level of independence, independence from the politician.  However, on assuming office, this Secretary decided to bypass this system where the Chief Administrator is responsible for the recruitment of procurement officers. Do you know what this Secretary did? He did not simply bring on a procurement officer. This Secretary found a close female associate and made this close female associate the head of the Procurement Unit, the Procurement Manager, even though there was already a bona fide Procurement Supervisor who would have gone through the recruitment process, would have gone through the necessary checks and balances and would have overtime got the required experience. This Secretary bypassed the policies of the THA and handpicked a procurement manager - his friend. But more than that, he did not stop there. He also looked at the projects and decided that he would sideline the establishment of the Division of Infrastructure, and he did not do it in a legal way. He did not even seek MSU’s approval to try to establish or change the off structure, because as you know, every Division has an approved organizational structure. However, this Secretary decided that he is not following that organizational structure. He went and hired his own Project Manager. So right away, the Secretary highjacked the procurement process by taking up the two key organs of the procurement process - projects and procurement.

      Madam Presiding Officer, what that in fact did, was immediately take away the independence of the procurement process, because now you have involved inside of the procurement, leading the procurement, both project and procurement, two persons handpicked by the Secretary.

     Madam Presiding Officer, it is also important to note that while the Secretary would have disregarded the established organizational structure, and while he hijacked the system, he did not stop there.

     Action No. 2 - The Secretary attacked, corrupt, bankrupt and sidelined Tobago contractors with capacity and experience. And he used - he hid behind the audits to indicate to the public of Tobago, and attacked the credibility of Tobago-based contractors, labelling them as corrupt. And I hold no brief for contractors once the evidence is shown that persons corruptly defrauded this island, they all must face the consequences without fear or favour, malice or ill will.

 Madam Presiding Officer, good afternoon, and   thank you for approving this Motion which stands in my name and reads:

“WHEREAS   there is public concern about the allegations of bid rigging and   corruption within the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban   Development;

AND   WHEREAS the Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban

Development knew or ought to have known about these   allegations of corruption;

AND   WHEREAS the Secretary’s conduct in relation of the allegations,   raises questions about his suitability to conduct the affairs of the people   of Tobago and hold Public Office;

BE IT   RESOLVED that this House affirm a position of no confidence in the   ability of the Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development to   continue to lead that Division consistent with his oath of Office;

AND BE   IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this House support the call for the Chief   Secretary to act in accordance with Section 36:3 (c) of the Tobago House of   Assembly Act and advise the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago   to revoke the appointment of the Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and   Urban Development.”


   Madam Presiding   Officer, Robert Zoellick, former President of the

World Bank, once described ‘corruption’ as:

“A cancer that steals from the poor, eats away at   governance and moral fibre, and destroys trust.”

Madam Presiding Officer, we are here today, because we   were promised a different kind of politics, and the people of Tobago bought   into it.

    As a matter of fact, Madam Presiding Officer, we were   promised that allegations of corruption would be a thing of the past, because   the systems of governance would be so transparent; that the people would be   side by side with this Executive. They would be able to see every contract   that was awarded. They would be able to know every contractor that bid. They   would be able to understand how the process was. Unfortunately, Madam   Presiding Officer, in the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban   Development, such a system is non-existent.

     It is for this very reason, I bring this Motion, as I   stand in defence of the poor; our parents; our single parents; our senior   citizens; the differently abled and special need families; the unemployed   youths who are out there asking for jobs. We see them every Tuesday asking   this Administration to provide jobs - our students as well as the thousands   of right-thinking Tobagonians who have all shared with me their personal   disgust and concern about the rampant corruption taking place in the Division of Infrastructure,Quarries and Urban   Development under the stewardship of the Member for Scarborough/Calder Hall,   Assemblyman Trevor James.

     Madam Presiding Officer, while this Motion of no   confidence undoubtedly caused him to question the suitability of Assemblyman  James to continue to perform the functions of a Secretary in the Division, it  similarly calls upon each of us Members here in this august chamber, to demonstrate to the people of Tobago that we are indeed bastians of integrity,   and that for the Members opposite, (as declared by them) they are truly   independent. It also calls upon the Chief Secretary of Tobago, to demonstrate to the people of Tobago, that he is prepared to ‘walk the talk’.

     Madam Presiding Officer, you see, the very quality of   integrity dictates that what one says and what one does, ought to be in   alignment. Therefore, not only did the Chief Secretary have each candidate of the team he now leads, sign a mandate letter affirming a zero tolerance against corruption in the presence of a Commissioner of Affidavits, but he also reinforced this   position in this very Chamber, when he presented the findings of the preliminary audit report.

On that day in the House, he scolded the Members of his Executive

Council saying:

“I want to warn all of you from the onset of this   presentation; to admonish the team I lead, to avoid corruption at all levels   and to shun the presence of evil.”

He went on to say:

“I want to warn you, that the same rules that I apply to   those that this report will reveal, had defrauded and/or significantly   attempted to defraud the Government and the people of Tobago, applies to all   of us in this team. Please be warned!”

      Those were the words of the Honourable Chief Secretary,   then. I want to ask him today, if   that warning still holds true. Is he prepared today and onward, to take   action when there is clear and present evidence of misbehavior in public   office by senior public officers, and facilitated by Members of his own   Executive? So Madam Presiding Officer, today, the people of Tobago will get   to see for themselves, and once and for all, whether this Chief Secretary   practices what he preaches; whether he is a man of his word and whether we   can in fact trust him.

      Madam Presiding Officer, it was this very Chief Secretary   who accused a former political opponent of corruption in a matter involving   the construction of a zip line. Notwithstanding that there were no concrete   evidence as to directly point to the involvement of the Secretary, the Chief   Secretary cited Section 37 (1) of the Tobago House of Assembly to justify his   claim, that a Secretary is assigned with responsibility of a Division of the   Assembly, and is ultimately responsible for the general direction and control   over that Division. He therefore maintained that the Secretary was culpable.

     The question one must therefore ask of the Member for   Parlatuvier/Lanse Fourmi/Speyside today, is whether he still subscribes to this  principle, that a Secretary is ultimately responsible for adverse events in their Division. If so, is he therefore prepared to hold the Secretary of Infrastructure, equally culpable for the series of questionable and unscrupulous activities taking place in the Division of Infrastructure, specific to the award of contracts for four (4) new roads, costing the entire   development allocation of the THA of over three hundred million dollars   ($300m)?

     Madam Presiding Officer, please permit me the opportunity  to briefly summarize the series of activities that have led us to this point today. In or around early September, you would recall that the   Chief Secretary announced to Tobagonians, the construction of four (4) new roads in time for the October   Carnival. The Political Leader of the PNM via press conference, initially   raised concerns about the procurement process, the inflated cost of the   projects, as well as the fact that every single one of the contractors   handpicked was not only from Trinidad, but a specific region of Trinidad,   while every Tobagonian contractor with the capacity and the experience was   sidelined; left out; not picked.

2:00 P.M

Minority Leader.

14th Plenary Sitting Tobago House of Assembly 2021 - 2025 Session


23 February 2023
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