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Secretaries Answers to Questions


2. The Minority   Leader asked the Chief Secretary and Secretary of Finance,Trade and the Economy:

“As it relates to your statement on the preliminary   findings of the audit report, you stated that under the “Deign Building Finance” approach adopted by the previous Administration, the payment of $1,400.00 per tonne for bitumen to contractors was ‘inflated and corrupt.’ What therefore, is the Chief Secretary’s position on the payment of $2,700.00 per tonne for bitumen as included in the recent Letter of Award to the company engaged for the Pigeon Point road paving contract?’

Thank you, Madam Presiding Officer.

Madam Presiding Officer, the honourable Member is attempting to create a mosaic, by piecing together data from different independent   arrangements.

The learned Member, in the question, is quoting $1,400 per tonne for bitumen specifically, and comparing that with $2,700 per tonne for the supply, placement and installation of asphalt mix and bitumen. So for the record, Madam Presiding Officer, we are comparing American apples with pommceytheres.

Minority Leader, any follow up questions?

Sure, Madam Presiding Officer.

Madam Presiding Officer, the Chief Secretary in his previous utterances, indicated that to supply and place asphalt, the cost was   fourteen hundred dollars ($1,400) per tonne. I have here in my possession, a proposal which was accepted by the Division of Infrastructure, where to supply, place and install asphalt mix and bitumen roadway, fifty (50) millimetres per tonne, is costing the taxpayers of Tobago twenty-seven hundred dollars($2,700), which is double the cost of what he said was inflated.

     So my simple question to the Chief Secretary is, please explain,because for the layman, we want to know, how could fourteen hundred dollars ($1,400) be inflated and corrupt, and then you   turn around and pay twenty-seven hundred ($2,700).Please explain to me how that is not even more inflated and even more corrupt.

Madam Presiding Officer, the answer remains the same. The honourable Member is attempting to   deliberately conflate things. In fact, I spoke to bitumen per tonne, and I am   saying that he is trying to compare fourteen hundred dollars ($1,400) that   was paid per tonne for bitumen only, with twenty-seven hundred ($2,700) per   tonne for supply, place and install of asphalt mix and bitumen.

Madam Presiding Officer, I believe that the Chief Secretary probably has been misled and he needs to now provide to the public of Tobago...

Can I have the question, please.

Would the Chief Secretary be prepared to provide the comparative cost that he called our   Tobago contractors corrupt, as compared to this very curious arrangement of   twenty-seven hundred ($2,700) per tonne? Is he willing to provide the   comparative cost so that the people of Tobago can really see who is comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges? Maybe the suit that he has on today probably has him a little bit...

Okay, Minority Leader, okay. Okay.

Madam Presiding   Officer, a point of order. That is not even a question.

What is the question?

The question is, we want to know whether the Chief Secretary is prepared to provide to the people of Tobago in the spirit of transparency and accountability, the payment or the proposals previously that he called corrupt, so that we can judge for ourselves...

Minority Leader, are you asking for documentation?

I want the Chief Secretary to provide us with the comparative data so that the people of Tobago can come to an understanding whether we are in fact,paying more or less under this arrangement.

Madam Presiding Officer, I thank God that most of Tobago is not as slow as some in this House today.I just provided the comparison in terms of data - twenty-seven hundred ($2,700) for supply, install and place of asphalt and bitumen as opposed to fourteen hundred ($1,400) per tonne for  just bitumen.


I am quite happy that   some of us are able to see beyond the slowness so that if...

Madam Presiding Officer, is there a question? [Crosstalk]

Members, Members.

Minority Leader, question?

Madam Presiding Officer, on a point of order.

Madam Presiding Officer, the Standing Orders are clear,   that what is required is a supplemental question. It is not a debate.

Minority Leader, the question?

Madam Presiding Officer, we are simply saying that there are provisions for us to have clear comparisons...

Chief Secretary. Can I have your question please, Minority   Leader?

All we are asking is, can the Chief Secretary provide a   clear comparison for the people of Tobago to see how much we paid under the   arrangement previously to supply, place and install asphalt mix to our   Tobago-based contractors, and how much they are now being paid.

The Chief Secretary just answered that question.

The Chief Secretary is saying that it is apples and   oranges, because we have - he is quoting a cost simply for bitumen, while on   the other hand, there is a cost that includes the works to be done.

On a point of order, Madam Presiding Officer. Is there a   supplemental question?

Members, in the   spirit of Christmas, please.

Can I have your question please, Minority Leader?

Madam Presiding   Officer, all we are asking the Hon.Chief Secretary to do...

Hon. Chief   Secretary, can you provide documentation to   the Minority Leader?

Madam Presiding   Officer, I just answered the question. [Crosstalk]

Members, Members,   Members!

Lawlessness. [Crosstalk]

Members! Ok.

Minority Leader.

Madam Presiding   Officer, we are here to bring clarity for the people of Tobago, and all I am trying to do...

Yes, but it is also not a debate.

We have a situation where fourteen hundred dollars ($1,400) ...

The Chief Secretary provided the information a while ago.

... which was called ‘inflated’ and ‘corrupt’ and now there is a situation where we are paying twenty-seven hundred dollars ($2,700), which is double. So we are  asking the Chief Secretary, because we want to get to the point of apples and apples - can he provide the situation that we as the layman Tobagonian, can understand what was the total cost before, because all he is giving me is ...

That is actually a different question.

That is a different question.

All I am simply asking as a follow-up, is whether the Chief Secretary is prepared to provide to the people of Tobago ...

He answered the question. Minority Leader, I am going to   advise Standing Order, 22 (f) (i). Please be guided by that. It states:

Any questions that   raises an issue already decided by the Assembly, or which has been answered   fully...”

He answered the question in this current session.

What I wanted to   find out...

Do you have a third supplemental question?

Yes, Madam Presiding Officer.

Can I hear your question, please?

What was the cost to supply, place and install asphalt mix and bitumen on the roadway previously?

That is the same question. Minority Leader, you are asking   the same question over and over.

It is a different question, Madam Presiding Officer.   Please follow with me. The bitumen cost that he called ‘inflated,’ is   fourteen hundred dollars ($1,400). That is just for the pure bitumen alone.   We now want to find out what was the cost paid to actually pave the road.   That is what we are basically asking. You have the bitumen and the works to   also go into it. What was the cost paid previously, so that we can now   compare when you put the total cost together? It may be two thousand dollars   ($2,000); twenty- five hundred dollars ($2,500) - so they would know whether   the cost is comparatively close to what they are paying now, or if it   is comparatively less, comparatively more.

So let me follow you. You are asking how much it cost to   pave the road in one session under the fourteen hundred dollars ($1,400) and   another...

... compared to what is being paid now. That is all, and that   is a different question.

That is another supplemental question.

That is the first time you have asked that question.

Chief Secretary.

Madam Presiding Officer, if it is a different question. It   cannot be a supplemental question.

It is related to the roads.

I do not have that information on me. The Minority Leader just said it is a different question, and   now he is saying it is the same; related but different. I do not have that   information on me.

I will ask you to ask that question at the next Sitting. Send it through the Order Paper and we   will answer it then.

 Thank you graciously, Madam Presiding Officer.

Next question.

Chief Secretary.

12th Plenary Sitting Tobago House of Assembly 2021 - 2025 Session


22 December 2022
Supplemental question to the main question :
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