Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 5th 2017 Contents A12 news
guardian.co.tt Wednesday, July 5, 2017
PAAC examines Education
Agriculture Minister Clarence
Rambharat has raised questions as
to how the Ministry of Education
was able to acquire two X-Trail ve-
hicles for $400,000 when they had
approval to purchase a $240,000
Rambharat posed the question to the
ministry's acting permanent secretary,
Angela Sinaswee, during a Public Admin-
istration and Appropriations Committee
meeting which examined the ministry's
internal control and expenditure at the
J Hamiliton Maurice Room, Parliament
Building, Port-of Spain on Monday.
Perusing the documents submitted to
committee members and its chairman,
Bridgid Annisette-George, Rambharat
pointed specifically to one item on the
agenda dated December 20, 2016 that
dealt with concerns in "inventory con-
He said on August 23, 2013, a memo
outlined a list of problems with the min-
istry's Toyota Fielder wagon, registered
PAZ 8172, stating that as a result, three
quotations were obtained for the purchase
of a new vehicle by the ministry.
Rambharat said a note indicated that
a Nissan X-Trail 2.5 was the ministry's
vehicle of choice.
"Then it follows with a memo dated
September 4, 2013 from the director of
finance and accounts to the permanent
secretary that identified three quotations
from Neal and Massy for an X-Trail, Clas-
sic Motors for a Honda CRV and Toyota
for a Fortuner."
The recommended supplier of Clas-
sic Motors, Rambharat said, noted that
though not the least expensive, the CRV
had plenty trunk space to accommodate
the boxes of files and mails to be delivered
by the ministry.
Rambharat said another document
showed the purchase of the X-Trails.
"And not just one X-Trail....two
X-Trails. So it moved from a recommen-
dation from the director of finance to the
PS for the Honda CRV from Classic Mo-
tors to be purchased even though it was
not the lowest price and the justification
is set out."
He said from September 30, there were
several notations on the file "dealing
with the acquisition of not one but two
X-Trails" stating that an invoice order
with no date attached was provided for
the two vehicles.
"So I am just wondering from an in-
ventory control...and just accountability
how does one move from the approval of
a Honda CRV with a justification to the
acquisition of two X-Trails? There is
nothing before me which tells me how
you went through that process," Ramb-
harat told Sinaswee-Gervais.
Sinaswee-Gervais, who was not em-
ployed at the ministry at the time of the
purchase, tried to give an explanation.
"I know depending on your funding
you tend to go with a good vehicle that
will serve purpose. So I am going to make
an assumption that the PS at the time
considered at the time that the X-Trail
would serve the purpose... and given the
funding... the cost of the CRV which is
$240,000 compared to $198,000 (for one
X-Trail) her approval was to purchase not
one but two. We were able to stretch the
money and get two."
Sinaswee-Gervais said the approval for
the purchase of the vehicles by the PS was
"With all due respect, I don't think
it is convincing to say that given fund-
ing constraints you decided not to buy
the $240,000 CRV and instead by two
X-Trails at $400,000. I don't think that
is convincing," Rambaharat shot back.
Sinaswee-Gervais said if she had
$400,000 and had a proposal to purchase
one vehicle that cost $240,000 but could
get two vehicles for the $400,000 she
would have decided to purchase the two.
"I cannot say what was on the mind of
the PS at the time. But she did approve
at the time the purchase of two X-Trails,"
She maintained that she could not
speak for the PS who no longer worked
at the ministry.
"However, it was to deliver mails. I do
know that you require a vehicle with a
massive amount of trunk space. You need
a reliable vehicle to get you from point A
to B,"Sinaswee-Gervais said.
She said the overall needs of the min-
istry must have been taken into account
before the vehicles were purchased.
"If we could get two vehicles almost
with the price of one. And clearly we had
the funding. I am seeing all the approvals
for it... the PS must have made her deci-
Rambharat asked Sinaswee-Gervais
to provide clarifying for the committee,
based on the paper trail she had presented
She said she would try her best to obtain
the information requested.
A Ministry of Agriculture workman cuts branches off a fallen Cassia (Yellow Flame) tree at the Queen's
Park Savannah West, opposite Queen's Royal Collage yesterday. The tree fell after heavy rains on Monday
which became waterlogged. PHOTO: ROBERTO CODALLO
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