Saturday, June 30, 2007

Elias overpaid $21M

CARONI EAST MP Ganga Singh said the cost to build the new Scarborough Hospital rose from $135M to $474M, in-cluding a $21M overpayment to contractors NH International, who are not now interested in completing the project.

Singh yesterday moved a private members’ motion in the House of Representa-tives condemning the Government’s failure to act in the public interest with respect to this project which he said is entangled in allegations of corruption, conflicts of interest and cost overruns and with no resumption of construction in sight, to the detriment of Tobagonians.

He said despite assurances at the sod-turning ceremony that the construction was a fixed-price contract, the price had successively risen from an initial $135M to $286M, to $404M and now to $474M, with Princes Town MP Subhas Panday adding: “and climbing.”

Singh referred to the Gafoor Report’s criticism of the existing facilities of the 150-year-old Scarborough Hospital as being “atrocious” and to the Sealey Inquiry into “Landate” which he said had found the removal of $5M in materials from the hospital site.

Citing a new document he had “received in my mailbox,” Singh said, “They have moved from the siphoning of material from the Scarborough Hospital site to the siphoning of monies from the Treasury. This administration has been conned by NH International because the prime mover and shaker of NH International is a financier of the PNM.”

He quoted the document, the ICC International Court of Arbitration’s judgment on the case of “NH International versus National Insurance Board” (case #13455/JNK/EBF)” delivered by Robert Gateshill on 31 May.

Arbitration had been requested in August 2004, said Singh, after work commenced in March 2003. Singh condemned the bungling of the Ministry of Health and Nipdec, saying the project’s part-financier, the Inter American Development Bank (IADB) had gone “very quiet” on the matter.

Singh said the PNM financier was a “smart-man by half” who had set up Government, got his money and then cut out of the project.

Citing the judgment, Singh said NH International claimed $222M and there were 1,000 issues in dispute. “So he wasn’t building the hospital; he was engaged in a charade to milk the Treasury.”

Singh read a reference to July 2005 in the document, saying “claimant owes $21M” in overpayment to NH which Nipdec was seeking to recover. Singh said the arbitrator was condemning a profligacy, lack of scrutiny and lack of leadership.

He read: “It is beyond any reasonable doubt that shortly after the date of suspension of work in July 2005 and the subsequent purported termination of the contract on November 3, 2006, the claimant knew it had been substantially overpaid.”

Singh said NH had suspended work because it had claimed to be upset over a Ministry of Health letter which had been signed “without prejudice.”

Singh described NH’s behaviour as renegade and predatory. He remarked that despite this controversy, NH boss Emile Elias still has hundreds of millions of dollars in other contracts in Trinidad and Tobago, despite recently complaining to Prime Minister Patrick Manning about problems in accessing State projects.

Singh described the Government as “incompetents” who assisted in the rape and plunder of the Treasury. “There is one rule for us and another rule for PNM financiers.”

Singh urged the Anti-Corruption Bureau to act on the Sealey Report and apply the Larceny Act. He lamented that the IADB has urged the demolition of the old Scarborough Hospital — a claim immediately denied by Minister of Planning Camille Robinson-Regis — but insisted upon by Singh who said the Minister should consult the IADB

Elias yesterday denied totally the statements made by Ganga Singh, dismissing them as mischief and challenging Singh to make these statements outside of Parliament so that he could take action.

Elias typi "fockin cal" PNM reaction.

"Say it outside lemme take yuh to court."

This fockin project is now 4 times the original cost and these mudder cont want to complain about the airport, especially day fockin big teef Elias. Plus he teefin for Rowley too. Imagine $5 million in material moved from the hospital !

Where is the Anti Corruption fockin Bureau and fockin Lindquist?

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