Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 21st 2015 Contents A4
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, October 21, 2015
New Agriculture, Lands and Fish-
eries Minister Clarence Rambharat
says Super Industrial Services Lim-
ited (SIS) is holding the State to
ransom over two land transactions
involving the former Caroni 1975
Limited s agricultural land.
Rambharat made the claim during
his maiden contribution in the Senate
yesterday as legislators debated the
2016 national budget which was pre-
sented on October 7 by Finance Min-
ister Colm Imbert in the Parliament
Chamber, Tower D, International
Waterfront Centre, Wrightson Road,
Dealing with the first transaction,
a 30-acre parcel, for a commercial
lease in 2001 by Caroni Ltd, Ramb-
"It was used for stockpiling mate-
rial, buildings were constructed and
it was used for what I consider to be
a complete industrial purpose."
He said while he was employed at
Caroni Ltd he demanded that SIS
paid the premium and commercial
rent that was due for those lands but
the company resisted.
But he said between 2001 and
2002 the company paid the premium
and the commercial rent for the land.
The minister recalled the Com-
missioner of State Lands wrote to
SIS on August 11, 2014 informing it
of an outstanding rent of more than
He said on September 3, 2014, the
commissioner apologised to SIS for
asking it to pay commercial rates.
"Since then," Rambarath added,
"SIS has been in the position where
the Government owes SIS because
having paid that $1 million in
2001/02, that covers the period they
have been in occupation of that land."
Rambharat said that was "because
it is regarded as agricultural land and
the taxpayers have lost revenue on
account of it."
He also spoke about a second
transaction involving a 75-acre of
land, which he said had become
He said that transaction started in
2001 when "SIS asked permission
to occupy a parcel of land and the
Government of the day agreed."
He said to date and despite the
fact that Town and Country Planning
has stated the land was agricultural
land which formed a buffer between
the industrial estate and the resi-
dential area, SIS continued to occupy
The minister said the Commis-
sioner of Valuation said the land was
valued at $300 million.
SIS attorney Roopchand
Chadeesingh declined comment on
the minister s claims yesterday.
Local Government and Rural Devel-
opment Minister Franklin Khan has
hinted at a possible police probe into
the lease arrangements for property
located at 1 Alexandra Street, Port-of-
Spain, which was supposed to be the
head office of the ministry.
Speaking in the budget debate in the
Senate yesterday, Khan said the original
contract for the building was reached
under the former PNM government in
2009 for a price of between $18 and $23
million but the contract to outfit the
building was renegotiated in 2010 by
the then PP government.
He said he saw a Cabinet Note
approved under the former PP govern-
ment authorising the permanent sec-
retary to spend $71.1 million on the proj-
ect.Khan said a PS contracted a quantity
surveyor to evaluate the amount of work
done on 1 Alexandra Place and it was
valued at over $22 million.
He said the amount paid up to that
time was $28.7 million and outstanding
invoices amounted to $30.96 million.
"This matter is before the Solicitor
General for advice (and) onward trans-
mission to some law enforcement
agency," he said.
Khan said, "Since leasing the building
taxpayers have paid $45.52 million for
five years and the contract value is $71.7
million bringing it to a total of $116.69
million and not a single person has occu-
pied that building to date."
Khan said the Government was com-
mitted to reform of the local government
and gave the assurance that the elections
due next year would not be postponed
under any circumstances.
"For local government reform to work
the umbilical cord must be cut from the
Ministry of Local Government," he
Opposition Senator Khadijah Ameen,
in her maiden contribution, called on
the minister to say if the recent
announcement of December 7 as the
date for local by-elections in Tuna-
puna/Piarco and Arima Municipal Cor-
porations were an indication that the
local elections were to be postponed.
She said it was not the norm for by-
elections to be held within the last year
of the constitutional term of the cor-
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