Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 14th 2016 Contents A19
February 14, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
speaker Wade Mark did not allow
me to put on the Hansard the truth.
The Trinidad Guardian published
a front page article by Gail Alexander
which refuted Moonilal s allegation.
The first allegation was that I had a
credit card. I never had a credit card.
I had a letter from Larry Howai, then
CEO of First Citizens Bank, categor-
ically stating that I was never the
holder of a government credit card
or HDC credit card. But again, that
is the downside of public life. People
make allegations. So that allegation
I wrote to the Speaker asking that
the matter be cleared up and put on
the record of Hansard and that was
denied. Unfortunately, I was in Ghana
when all these things were going on.
I don t expect it to stop. It s part of
public life. For some strange reason
people feel I get things done. Trees
with fruits are subject to a lot of
There were claims that under
your watch members of the media,
friends, party hacks were given
houses, how does that differ from
what took place under the People's
Partnership government's watch?
I am not aware I could have given
out houses. There was an allocation
policy...a lottery system and as far
as I am aware, that is what transpired.
I have two acquaintances in the
media....Gail Alexander and Ria Taitt.
I don t think either of them are recip-
ients of HDC houses. I also know
veteran journalist Jones P Madeira,
but he owns his house in Arima. I
think that allegation is a little unfair.
I would like to know which friends
I gave houses to. The HDC has a
strict allocation policy. I am not aware
that that policy was breached.
What is your position on the
issue of favouring certain contrac-
tors for kickbacks while others suf-
fer for contracts and work?
My record speaks for itself. When
I was at the HDC we engaged the
most contractors that have ever been
engaged---be it small, medium or
large contractors. In fact, we were
accused of overheating the construc-
tion industry and people were calling
upon us to slow down the rate at
which we were going. In fact, I think
contractors never had it so good
under the HDC, we were fair, trans-
parent, and spread the work evenly.
Every single contractor had work. To
say we favoured contractors, that is
not so. But as I said before, in public
life there is a lot of misconception
and misrepresentation and some-
times downright mischief. But what
can I say.
Udecott's decision to split up con-
struction work among several small
contractors to undertake work at
the Brian Lara Stadium project, can
we expect this trend to continue
with other major projects in the
Udecott primarily focuses on very
large projects, which are not suited
to small contractors. You just have
to look at Udecott s projects...be it
Napa, the Waterfront, the Couva
Children s Hospital, those projects
were undertaken by big contractors.
We, however, hope that in the coming
months and years that Udecott will
start to undertake smaller projects.
What measures are being put in
place to ensure transparency and
accountability in the awarding of
contracts at Udecott?
Udecott is a process-driven organ-
isation. Udecott has systems and
procedures that could stand up to
any scrutiny when it comes to trans-
parency. It all came about in the Uff
commission of inquiry, which out-
lined 50-plus recommendations,
which Udecott has implemented with
the award of its contracts.
Will Udecott cut any
of its projects?
I don t know. Again, that would
be the client s prerogative. The Ude-
cott s board cannot sit down and say
we are no longer proceeding with
the Arima Hospital, the Waterfront
or the St Michael s project. We are
really the implementers of Govern-
ment projects and, therefore, cutting
a project is really up to the client
rather than to Udecott.
What is Udecott's budget for
Udecott implements projects on
behalf of the Government. Nobody
gives us money.
How many jobs are likely to be
created from Udecott's ongoing
That is difficult to answer because
Udecott is not engaging in any new
projects right now. What we are
doing is completing projects.
Let s take the Point Fortin Hospital
approximately, 250 jobs were created.
The same goes for the Arima Hos-
pital. So that is about 500 jobs were
provided. Those projects are now
getting off the ground. What I can
say is that we have been maintaining
a lot of jobs in the construction sec-
tor. There will be no job loss but
more job creation.
Are you put in a tight spot when
determining which projects should
Not me. That will be Finance Min-
ister Colm Imbert because we are
just the implementers of projects.
The final decision rests on his
Not too long ago people protested
in front of the Point Fortin Hospital
because they thought work had
slowed down. The Minister of
Finance has no intention of stopping
the Point Fortin Hospital. It is just
that we have these budgetary con-
straints. What the minister is now
doing is looking at innovative ways
to make sure work on the hospital
does not stop. It is a balancing act.
We also have to deal with national
security projects, including police
and fire stations and the maximum
security prison, which is also a pri-
What went wrong with the Las
Alturas project that resulted in tax-
payers spending $26 million on two
housing buildings which had to be
demolished due to structural dam-
You would have to wait for my
testimony at the commission. How
could I answer your question without
prejudicing what I have to say when
I go before the commission. Con-
struction projects by their very nature
have risks. Something went wrong
and hopefully at the end of the day,
the commission would be able to
answer that question. At the end of
the day we would get to the bottom
Do you think $90 million allo-
cated to finish the Brian Lara Sta-
dium will be sufficient judging from
the volume of work that has to be
Yes, the Brian Lara Stadium by
and large was completed. We have
to start off from that, save and except
for some minors things such as seal-
ing the roof and getting some other
works completed. What was unfor-
tunate was that Udecott and the con-
tractor got into a dispute and the
work stopped. Then the rains came
and water entered the building and
virtually destroyed all the carpet and
other interior fixtures. Coupled with
that, the vandals came and stole the
electrical wires. There was also lax
What went wrong
with Las Alturas?
Wait for my testimony at
From page A8
PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
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