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Secretaries Answers to Questions


5.          The Minority Leader asked the Chief Secretary and Secretary of Finance, Trade and the Economy the following question:

As it relates to the renovation of the official residence of the Chief Secretary, located at Lowlands, Tobago, will the Chief Secretary please provide the following:

   (a) What is the detailed scope of works approved by the Executive Council?

   (b) What is the breakdown of the total cost as per the scope of works outlined?

   (c) What is the cost to purchase and install a very fancy jacuzzi at the residence?

   (d) What is the cost to repave the driveway?

      Yes, Madam Presiding Officer. I am elated to answer this question because I know the Minority Leader has been getting his information from his fake news agents online.

      So I have seen figures floating around that I do not know anything about, but I note that I asked for permission to show photos in the House as per required by the Standing Orders.

     I am happy that we are also going live and I will ask for these photos to be queued accordingly on the monitors so that you can see the photos of what we inherited at the Chief Secretary’s residence and what we did and the cost of what we did.

     So first up, the photos you see [photo display on monitor] are of the driveway. For some reason it was not properly done and it resulted in every time a vehicle or an individual passed in the area, tar was getting into the garage area and into the residence itself, which meant that the staff at Property Management had to keep paying to refinish the wooden floors, paying to clean tar off the tiles inside and so a request was made to the Division of Works that is responsible for Government Quarters No25 - this is Government Quarters No25 - to repair the driveway. I will give the cost shortly.

     The next photo I will show, are the awnings around the house and it will show that all the brackets holding up the awnings and parts of the awnings is severely rusted. You can show the photo please? [photo display on monitor] The awning is severely rusted out. That is yet to be fixed. So I pray God that it does not drop on anybody’s head, especially my wife’s head while we are there, because the State will have to compensate me for this. [Desk thumping]

     The next set of photos I would like to show will be of some of the air- conditioning units at the residence, [photo display on monitor] We have air-condition units that were all rusted out. We have about two different photos of air-condition units rusted out, and so air-conditions had to be replaced, in particular the air-conditions attached to the maid’s quarters. I cannot be in cold breeze and those who come to work for less salary than mine, be uncomfortable. There must be equality across the board. [Desk Thumping]

      Next photo I wish to show the House will be of the rusted out burglar proof gate at the home office, which is adjoining to the master bedroom where my wife and I sleep. This I am told was rusted out like this through several Chief Secretaries, so this burglar proof had to be replaced. In fact, it was taken down and replaced with an electronic key card system. (I will share the cost in a short while) that will allow for security without putting up a burglar proofing that would naturally succumb to the elements of the Atlantic in that area.


2:35 PM

            Next photo [photo display on monitor] will be of the office there at the residence, and at the office in that photo, you will see where the legs of the table all went out; the drawers could not close properly; there was a patch in the arm of the chair and other breakage within the furniture. The chairs were reupholstered as opposed to the new ones that have been purchased and a new table was procured. I will give the cost in a short while.

        Next up, [photo display on monitor] we have photos of the infamous tub, that comess and Facebook said that we spent a one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) on; and the master bedroom - the top fixtures were broken and efforts were made to return to the supplier to get the fixtures and could not get same, so a replacement tub had to be purchased. 

        Additionally, in that photo, you will also see where at some point we had to patch in a different type of tile in the background to treat with a plumbing fix. It must be known that when this tub was moved out, some more tiles had to be replaced, because we could not get back the exact size of the tub as was there previously. 

       Next photo [photo display on monitor] we will show will be of the flag poles. One of the flag poles prior to arrival was already down, so in contravention of all protocols, the flags were being hoisted in a manner that contravenes the protocols because one of the flag poles fell down. If you look at the base of the flagpoles in one of the photos, you will see where the bolts were rusted out from the existing flagpoles, so we needed to replace the bolts and replace the flagpoles.

     Next up, [photo display on monitor] the more infamous pool that comess and Facebook said that we spent five million dollars ($5m) on, and I will give the real cost. The pool - we had to make a decision between the cleaning of the pool and having to change the tiles or leaving the pool as is. We cleaned the pool and we procured the exact blue mosaic tiles and replaced only the tiles that fell out due to the cleaning, because this is a significant backup of calcium and limestone and so on. We also procured extra blue tiles, so in the future all that needs to happen is just to replace the tiles that drop out in the process of cleaning.

     Additionally, the next photo [photo display on monitor] I want to show is some of the furniture around the residence - the pool furniture you could see they were all bent out of shape, washed out and faded.

    Next, [photo display on monitor] I will show the gate at the entrance - some lattice work that were all busted up and one of the internal showers where the wall was busted up; the shower head was falling off. I will let you know, Madam Presiding Officer, that the gate is still not fixed up to yesterday. Up to last night upon arrival, the security had to come out to push the gate, so I could be there late at night and it will mean that a gunman or anybody could hold up us at the gate, because the automatic system is not working and the base of the gate is rusting out. The shower and the lattice work were repaired. I will give the cost of that.

    Then I have two (2) other sets of photos of some of the furnishings in the residence. We have the living room chair (Can we show it please)? [photo display on monitor] all tattered up, ripped up and burst up, and so we had to replace it. An upholsterer came and fixed the dining room chairs, but we could not save the living room chairs.

    Next slide [photo display on monitor] we show some other furniture. I do not know who was residing here and what they were doing with the furniture, but this is the state of the furniture that we met there, all busted up; the sponge coming out of the chair and pee stains on them. I do not know about you, Madam Presiding Officer, but where I live in Speyside, my father does upholstery, and none of our furniture as poor as we may be, do not look like this. So I prefer to live in Speyside with my proper furniture, than live in this. But as the case is, this is government quarters No. 25. It does not belong to Farley Chavez Augustine, it belongs to the people of Tobago. And sadly, like the other government quarters, they were not properly maintained.

     I will let you know as per your question - the Executive Council does not have to approve a scope of work for any government quarters. Government quarters are to be maintained under Budget Line Item 21 - Repairs and Maintenance of Buildings. And for this fiscal year under ‘Repairs and Maintenance of Buildings’, the fiscal allocation is three point two million dollars ($3.2m). Simply put, the cost was serviced under what was estimated for and budgeted and approved by the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago. The total cost - and allow me to give you a breakdown - cost by cost of the work, to show that we are transparent and we are very, very clear in what they are.

  •  The stone facade - exterior restoration, that came in at a cost of nine thousand, four hundred and six dollars and ninety-four cents ($9,406.94);

  • To fix planks on balcony step, that was five hundred and forty-seven dollars ($547.00);

  • The flagpole restoration and the installation of a new one totalled eighty thousand, four hundred and thirty-four dollars and thirteen cents ($80,434.13);

  • The stone facade - exterior restoration, that came in at a cost of nine thousand, four hundred and six dollars and ninety-four cents ($9,406.94);

  • Pool cleaning and mosaic tile replacement, a total of seventeen thousand, one hundred and sixty dollars ($17, 160.00).

Get the cost correct - there was no five million dollars ($5m) there; 

  • Replacement of non-functioning pool lights - five hundred and twenty-five dollars ($525.00);

  • Replacement of damaged lattice work - forty-four thousand,
     three hundred and fifty-seven dollars and fifty cents  ($44,357.50);

  •  Cleaning tiles at the portico - five hundred dollars ($500.00);

  •  Cleaning fixtures and fittings smudged with paint - one hundred and twenty dollars ($120.00);

  •  The re-sheeting of the driveway, I will give you the cost one time - that is seventy-eight thousand, one hundred and twenty- five and sixty-seven cents ($78,125. 67);

 and that was done in house by the Division, 

  • Replacement of all the weathered hinges around the sun room, all were rusted out. The total cost - two thousand, eight hundred and seventy-five dollars and twenty cents (2,875.20);

  • Replacement of all the weathered door handles. They were all rusted out and the locks were not working. The total cost was also two thousand, eight hundred and seventy-five dollars and twenty cents ($2,875.20);

  • Air condition repairs and installation, ten thousand, three hundred and twenty-seven dollars and fifty cents ($10,327.50);

  • Keypad security door for the study or the home office - six thousand, five hundred and forty-six dollars ($6,546.00);

  •  The office desk, the new one is four thousand, five hundred and twenty-five dollars ($4,525.00);

  • The glazing work, mirrors, bathroom enclosures in all the bathrooms; all the plumbing fixtures that were changed out totalled eighty-three thousand, two hundred and sixteen dollars and twenty-five cents ($83, 216.25);

  • Installation of new shower mixer in the master bath, that is the dial that you turn for the shower on top or the pipe below - that is three thousand, eight hundred and six dollars, and eighty- eight cents ($3,806.88);

  • (Let me pause here, so that people will know it is not any one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00), as the Minority Leader’s friends are telling him).

  • The master bath tub replacement and installation totalled twelve thousand, three hundred and seventy dollars and fifty-two cents ($12, 370.52);

  •  Replacement of the tiles in the master bathroom -

  • Eventually, we have to replace all the surrounding wall tiles, but we left the floor tiles and we tried to patch in a similar floor tile in the area where some were missing, but:

  • The replacement of tiles totalled twelve thousand, five hundred and eighty dollars and twenty-seven cents ($12,580.27).

2:45 PM
  • Built in Cabinetry for microwave and mini fridge in the master bedroom - that is three thousand, two hundred and eighty-five dollars ($3,285.00). Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) did that, by the way.

  • Shelving in the master walk-in closet for towels and sheets - that was also done by Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) at a cost of five hundred dollars ($500.00).

  • Transport from Trinidad to site for Trinidad purchases, six thousand,sixty-two dollars and fifty cents ($6,062.50).

  • The refinishing of the living room floor - that is the wooden floor to be sanded, patched where it needs to be patched and re-stained - that is twenty-one thousand, eight hundred and seventy dollars and forty cents ($21,870.40).

  • Repainting of external side to the main entrance door - four hundred and twenty-seven dollars and fifty cents ($427.50).

  • Repair chips to bed frame and door. We repaired the beds in the other rooms, but we changed out the bed in the master bedroom because I am not sleeping on the same bed that the former Chief Secretary slept on. [Desk thumping] Those repairs totalled fifty dollars ($50.00) for the other beds and I would tell you that to date,the Division of Infrastructure and Urban Development spent two hundred and twelve thousand, three hundred and nineteen dollars and thirty-nine cents ($212,319.39) on the repairs, well below a quarter of what is in the budget to treat with repairs and maintenance of buildings with regards to government quarters.


   I will let this House also know that there are several other things to be done -1 mentioned the awning - not yet done.

There was also a need to do an attachment between the main house and the maid quarters, so one does not have to go through rain to get to where the laundry is - not yet done.

 The wash sinks inside of the washroom that have all decayed - those concrete sinks - not yet done. 

     The back fencing around the perimeter that the security services have advised is way too low and that some neighbours’ cows butt in - not yet repaired or replaced. We have even considered a secondary exit. I will also let you know that none of the camera systems at the residence is working, not one of them at all working and so just like any other government quarters, the Division of Works will take its dead time to do whatever it does and it may get done this year; it may get done twenty (20) years from now, but that is in true Works fashion. It is government quarters number 25 and it will be treated with just like any other government quarters, I guess. [Desk thumping]

Chief Secretary notwithstanding your very skilful ability to deflect from the questions asked, I am still yet to hear whether any works, any of the scope of work was outsourced and what was the procurement process to treat with that.

Madam Presiding Officer, none of the questions asked by the Minority Leader on the Order Paper, asked me to differentiate between what was outsourced and what was done internally. The last time I checked, I could read. I went to the Bishop’s High School and I am certain that the Minority Leader was in a class somewhere next to me, perhaps not in my class, but he was in a class somewhere next to me and none of the questions he asked on the Order Paper, asked for that. But let me attempt to help him in terms of what was done internally and what was outsourced.

  • So, the stone facade exterior restoration - outsourced.

  • Fixing of the planks on the balcony done internally by the Division of Works.

  • Flag poles done internally by the Division of Works.

  • The walkway from the security booths to the main house done internally by the Division of Works.

  • The pool cleaning and mosaic tile replacement - outsourced.

  • The lights in the pool done by the Division of Works.

  • The replacement of the lattice work done by the Division of Works.

  • The cleaning of the tiles in the portico - that was done by the same folks that did the pool.

  • The cleaning of fixtures (much by paint) done by the Division of Works.

  • Driveway done by the Division of Works.

  • All the weather hinges and door handles - those were outsourced.

  • The air-condition (AC) repairs were done by the Division of Works;

  • The security keypad - outsourced;

  • The office desk was by a local supplier;

  • The glazing work in the bathrooms; the changing of the mirrors; the bathroom enclosures; the fixtures - those were all outsourced;

  • The shower mixer that was installed by the Division of Works;

  • The infamous tub was installed by the Division of Works;

  • The replacement of tiles in the bathroom was done by the Division of Works;

  • The built in cabinetry for the microwave and the mini refrigerator - that was done by the Division of Works;

  • Shelving in the master closet - that was done by the Division of Works;

  • The transportation between the islands to bring stock procuring Trinidad - was outsourced;

  • The refinishing of the living room floor, that is, the wooden floors - that was outsourced;

  • The repainting of the external side of the main entrance door - that was done by the Division of Works;

  • The dining room table -I did not mention it before because no cost was attached to that in the actual scope sent across this morning by Engineer Mr. Martin, but I will let you know that the goodly folks at URP - it is not coffins alone that they can build - they built a fantastic and sturdy dining room table, well polished at no cost;
    [Desk thumping]

  • The repair chips to bed frame and doors - that was done by the Division of Works;

  • The reconstruction of shelving .... [Interruption]

Member for Darrel Spring/Whim you are interrupting. Now I understand your enthusiasm, however, you asked the question so allow the Chief Secretary to answer please.

     Thank you.

Thank you.

  • And the repairing chips to the bed frame and the door, that too was done by the Division of Works.

So you can see the majority was done by the Division of Works. And because that was not an original question on the Order Paper, I did not ask the Engineer at the Division of Works who did the work, Mr. Martin, to provide that information in terms of the procurement process. But what I did was to simply send the question as is, down to the Division of Works and they supplied the responses that I shared today. [Desk thumping]

4th Plenary Sitting Tobago House of Assembly 2021 - 2025 Session


24 March 2022
Supplemental question to the main question :
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