NOTHING AWARDED YET

No contract had been awarded at National Petroleum Marketing Co Ltd, Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal said yesterday.

Moonilal was responding to questions originally posed by Opposition MP Fitzgerald Hinds, but taken up by Opposition Senators Terrence Deyalsingh and Faris Al-Rawi at yesterday’s sitting of the Senate at the Red House in Port of Spain.

Though the initial question was on the use of police protection for the Prime Minister at unofficial residences including the Tunapuna home of Ralph and Maureen Gopaul, it quickly segued into the $40 million transport contract allegedly awarded to the same company.

“The Prime Minister herself has not been and will never be involved in the issuance and award of contracts of state companies,” Moonilal added.

“The company in question has been operating for eight to 10 years and indeed has won contracts under the former administration,” he said.

When asked about the NP report on the multi-million dollar tender and contract award, Moonilal directed all questions to Minister of Energy, Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan.

“Any report would be directed to the Ministry of Energy and not the Minister of Housing,” he said.

“Matters dealing with the board of NP, would be directed to the Minister of Energy,” he added.

Moonilal warned Hinds that he was using the “Calder Hart yardstick” to measure the current administration and asked if any company or business person acquainted with either the Prime Minister of any politician are summarily disqualified from accessing Government contracts.

“The Government policy commitment on these matters is that all persons and groups of business persons shall have an equal opportunity to tender and seek contracts from the Government agencies and state enterprises,” he said.

“We operate on basis of transparency, correct procedure and fairness in the distribution of goods and services for all qualifying citizens,” he said.

Seepersad-Bachan, line minister for NP, yesterday confirmed that the State company has not awarded any contracts.

“Whether it is as yet or not, it is important to ascertain the facts first,” she said in a brief telephone interview yesterday.

She said she met with NP’s board of directors and has appointed a independent team to “review the matter”.

Martin George, attorney for CDS Transport, the other company short-listed to provide transport for the gas company, said yesterday he has not received any communication from the Ministry of Energy and would be pursuing the matter legally.

He said a review of the tender process was not necessary as only the two companies -CDS Transport and Gopaul and Company – were short-listed.

He said according to the tender rules, the contract was supposed to be awarded already, but felt that NP was “dithering around”.

Extracted From: Trinidad Express Newspaper

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