Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 5th 2016 Contents Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
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for 04TH JANUARY, 2016
Chairman of the Urban Development
Corporation of T&T (Udecott) Noel Garcia
yesterday dismissed allegation that he
received kickbacks for the award of con-
tracts as "absurd, scandalous and an out-
Garcia made the statement as he
responded to Opposition Senator Wayne
Sturge s claim that his son s university
tuition was paid by a contractor who had
been awarded multi-million dollar contracts
from the HDC while Garcia was at its helm.
"I can say without fear of contradiction
that I financed the education of my son as
I financed the education of all of my chil-
dren," Garcia told the T&T Guardian in a
"I dare any contractor to say they financed
any of my children s education in exchange
for the award of contracts," he added.
During a press conference yesterday,
Sturge said he had sent a file containing
documentary evidence purporting to show
wire transfers of over US$20,000 to Garcia s
son, Christian, by owner of PACE Con-
struction Services Limited, Junior Joseph,
over a period of four years between 2002
Sturge, who read his letter to the com-
mission at his Regius Chambers, Port-of-
Spain office, called on Prime Minister Dr
Keith Rowley to remove Garcia from his
Garcia was head of the National Housing
Authority between 2003 and 2005 and then
head of the HDC between 2005 and 2008.
In 2006, PACE Construction Services
Limited was awarded the contract for the
construction of 220 housing units in Point
Fortin. The company was also awarded a
contract for the construction of housing
units in Corinth.
Sturge also called on the commission to
investigate whether the board of the HDC
in 2003 had gone against proper public
procurement practices in "hand picking"
firms, including PACE Construction, to be
beneficiaries of contracts.
Sturge alleged that the La Fortune con-
tract, which had an original contract price
of over $85 million, escalated to over $225
The Corinth contract, which had an orig-
inal contract price of $165 million, escalated
to over $286 million, he claimed.
Sturge said in light of Rowley s announce-
ment about using the construction of homes
as a measure to stabilise the economy, the
allegations needed to be looked at.
He added: "I am very concerned because
a select few persons received contracts and
in some instances there was a doubling,
tripling and quadrupling of costs and one
wonders if this was a sincere escalation of
costs or if it was something else.
But yesterday, Garcia denied the Sturge s
allegations, describing them as "ludicrous."
He said: "I don t know what documentary
evidence he has but I can say without fear
of contradiction, I called my wife and as
far as we are aware I sacrificed, in fact both
me and my wife sacrificed, to put both of
our children through school."
Garcia also denied having the power to
award contracts as he said that was a deci-
sion taken by the HDC s Tenders Committee
and the board.
During the conference, Sturge presented
what appeared to be a copy of a wire transfer
made to Christian Garcia, then at Saint
John s University, Minnesota, by Junior
Sturge alleged another document
appeared to be a copy of instructions from
Garcia to Joseph for foreign wire transfers
While Garcia confirmed his son did attend
St John s University, he said he could not
recall ever giving any such instructions and
said US$20,000 was not near enough to
cover the university s tuition fees.
"To suggest that a contractor funded my
son s education in exchange for the award
of contracts is absurd, scandalous and an
"Does it have my signature? I don t recall
that correspondence. I am not aware of
me, Noel Garcia, issuing such instructions.
I just find this thing to be utterly ridiculous,"
Garcia compared Sturge s allegations to
allegations made by United National Con-
gress MP Dr Roodal Moonilal in 2012 that
Garcia had used the HDC s corporate credit
card to run up a $500,000 bill.
Garcia had denied that and presented a
letter from First Citizens which stated that
the HDC did not have corporate credit
"These wild allegations are not uncom-
mon but just like the credit card, I am also
dismissing this one," he said.
Last week, Sturge referred Housing Min-
ister Marlene Mc Donald to the Integrity
Commission over a complaint that she used
her office to influence the allocation of a
house to her partner Michael Carew.
Yesterday, Sturge again called on the
Prime Minister to remove Mc Donald as
Housing Minister if she did not "do the
honourable thing and resign."
Opposition Senator Wayne Sturge yesterday
questioned the silence by Movement for Social
Justice (MSJ) leader David Abdulah and Fixin
T&T activist Kirk Waithe on allegations of
improper conduct by Housing Minister Marlene
He also questioned the silence from Prime Min-
ister Dr Keith Rowley, who he said had came into
office promising to deal harshly with corruption
and misbehaviour in public office.
Speaking at a press conference at Regius Cham-
bers, Richmond Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday,
Sturge said the activists who usually called for
transparency in government had been strangely
silent in recent weeks.
Noting that Abdulah had expressed a desire to
see white collar criminals brought to justice, Sturge
said he was giving him his wish.
"We are granting him his wish in the hope that
he would see it fit to open his mouth since he
seems to have become a member of the deaf and
"We have not been hearing from him and that
is most disturbing. Since he has been appointed
we wonder if that is no longer an empty vessel
but his belly is full more or less," he said.
Abdulah was recently appointed to the Economic
Sturge also said Mc Donald still had questions
"She has not denied that she has a beneficial
interest in Fidelis Heights or that the house was
rented from day one. It is common knowledge
that when one buys HDC houses and rents the
premises they lose the unit," Sturge said.
"This is nepotism and cronyism and the kind
of thing that ought not to happen in public life
but is a case of the pot calling the kettle black,"
He said in the circumstances, "the high stan-
dards set in the past where there is evidence of
wrongdoing and ministers were called upon to
resign" was appropriate."
Sturge also said he had not finished exposing
misconduct by government ministers.
"I got more documents relating to Minister Mc
Donald and we intend to forward them to the
Integrity Commission," he said.
Neither Waithe nor Abdulah answered calls
Dr Rowley is expected to return to T&T today
after a trip to Miami. (KC)
Garcia slams Sturge's 'scandalous' claim...
I financed my son's tuition
Opposition Senator Wayne Sturge shows a
document containing allegations against
Housing Development Corporation boss Noel
Garcia, which he sent to the Integerity
Commission, during a press conference at his
office yesterday. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
In yesterday's edition on Page A3, the name of
a man killed in Sangre Grande on Sunday was
incorrectly identified as Orcale Kerbie Smith. The
dead man name is Orcale Ciprani Smith.
GETTING IT RIGHT
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