Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 21st 2013 Contents A5
Friday, June 21, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Retired chief fire officer Carl
Williams and permanent sec-
retary in the Ministry of Nation-
al Security Jennifer Boucaud-
Blake have questions to answer
after acting Communication
Minister Anil Roberts yesterday
produced an official 2012 letter
from Williams to Blake saying
a $10 million payment for
removal of a firetruck was out-
The November 22, 2012 letter
bore a handwritten notation
with Boucaud-Blake s signature
instructing the ministry s deputy
permanent secretary to
Speaking at yesterday s post-
Cabinet media conference,
Roberts cleared the Cabinet and
the former national security
minister in the issue.
His explanation and the letter
pointed the finger for explana-
tions in the direction of Williams
There has been controversy
on the issue of the $2 million
firetruck which Government
paid $6.8 million to retrieve after
it ran off a cliff in Blanchisseuse
on November 17, 2012.
Roberts said: "The debate is
not whether the firetruck was
worth $2 million and the bill
was $6 million. (All) the infor-
mation that has been going out
by certain members of the media
who leave out little details,
(remember) when you tell a story
you must tell the whole story...
the Cabinet was presented with
a fait accompli."
He said the CFO sent his in-
house crew to try and take out
the truck and they were unable
to do that.
Roberts added: "The CFO
then asked a company to say
how much it would cost to get
the truck out.
"At some time the CFO
approved and requested the
company to take out the truck.
The company did their legiti-
mate work and took out the
truck. They presented an invoice
to the CFO. The CFO then sent
a memo of November 22, 2012
to the PS. No minister or Cab-
inet was involved. So let s get
the whole story please."
He read out the November 22,
2012 letter from Williams to
Blake, subject of which was
"payment on behalf of Sammy s
Multilift Services Ltd, re-
retrieval of Fell Water Tanker,
registration No TBY 9251, at
CFO Williams letter stated:
"I have perused the attached
document and found its contents
to be genuine. In this regard the
payment to Sammy s Multilift
Services Ltd in the sum of
$10,189,115 remains outstanding.
"This payment is to be made
for retrieval of No 504 Water
Tanker, registration No TBY
9251, which fell down a precipice
at Blanchisseuse (near the Asa
Wright Nature Centre) on Sat-
urday 17th November 2012."
The letter carried a National
Security stamp of November 27,
It also bore a handwritten
note at the top to "Dep PS
Lynch, "For processing pls"
and was signed JBBlake.
Roberts said the CFO s letter
had accompanied the company s
He added: "So the CFO
authorised work legitimately
done, the CFO went to the
accounting officer, the PS, who
then wrote to the deputy PS of
the Ministry and the deputy PS
then wrote up the note for Cab-
inet and the minister then
brought this to Cabinet (but)
you didn t have to call a minister
to take out the truck."
Roberts explained processes
He said: "There is something
called covering approval in the
style of governance in which
certain people have different
limits of expenditure.
"A PS might have a $1 million
limit. However, in the case of
emergency and there is the need
for work to be done, then you
seek something known as for
He said when notes came to
Cabinet, the procedure at that
point would not be to try and
debate where less money could
be spent or other details of final-
isation of expenditure.
He said the work was done
before by the relevant ministry
and Cabinet was presented with
a note, in this case a note based
on the CFO telling the PS the
work was done on the firetruck
and the bill was to be paid.
He said Cabinet s option was
to pay a bill or, if not, face the
other party s decision to go to
court and then possibly risk los-
ing and paying costs and other
Roberts said the firetruck bill
eventually came down to $6.8
On the role of the minister,
Roberts said in corporate gov-
ernance structures, the CFO
"Ministers do not write
cheques or approve invoices or
do the accounting. We have a
public service with very strict
rules," he said.
"Nor did the Cabinet have
any input in the truck issue due
to public services rules, he
Asked if the first time the
minister would have seen it,
would have been when he
received the note, Roberts said:
" Ahh, welcome to the truth..."
On if that was acceptable gov-
ernance, Roberts said that was
the public service system since
He said that system protected
the minister and politicians who
had nothing to do with the sit-
uation and who saw the issue
for the first time in the Cabinet
Roberts, however, said the sit-
uation was indeed a "fiasco"
which occurred between
November 17 and 19, 2012 but
that excluded the Cabinet and
He also said Senior Counsel
Dana Seetahal misquoted him
on the issue.
Asked if Williams had discre-
tion to authorise the engagement
of the company for the job,
Robert said that was why the
Government had tried to imple-
ment procurement law though
the PNM had blocked that by
refusing to get involved in the
Joint Select Committee process.
Boucaud-Blake did not
answer calls yesterday. (GA)
to deal with
Approaches have been made to Caribbean Air-
lines (CAL) to initiate a Colombia/T&T/London
route and a Panama/T&T/London route, Trade
Minister Vasant Bharath says.
At yesterday s weekly post-Cabinet press con-
ference Bharath said the current focus for the
moment was on returning to basics and dealing
with capital expenditure.
He said he met recently with new CAL interim
board chairman Phillip Marshall on what he
(Bharath) expected from the new board. He said
people who have worked with the former BWIA
and early Caribbean Airlines structure also were
He said CAL also was finalising issues con-
cerning the Air Jamaica arrangement and quelling
Jamaican concerns on outstanding matters. Most
of a total of US$15 million owed to Jamaica had
been paid except US$2 million which would be
paid by month end, he said.
Bharath said Government had lost market share
on the Jamaican routes of the CAL arrangement
with Air Jamaica which have been taken up by
He, however, said Government was committed
to increase the frequency of routes to deal with
Bharath said there were some "emotional" issues
concerning the Jamaican diaspora to deal with,
as well as regarding the market and branding,
such as whether to use both logos on planes or
one. He stood by the viability of the arrangement
and resuscitation of the effort.
He also announced moves to further enhance
T&T s image concerning ease of doing business.
He said he would head an inter-ministerial team
which aimed to deal with the remaining issues
which took long to complete and which hampered
T&T s business systems.
Those issues included tax payments, enforcing
contracts, registering property and dealing with
contractual permits, it was stated.
Bharath said solutions to eliminate problems
would include a possible fixed fees for stamp duty,
elimination of the need for WASA clearance cer-
tificates, electronic filing, improving reporting
functions, revamped legislation, electronic filing
and other innovations
Asked about the July march planned by the
labour movement, which has demands, Bharath
said T&T could increase its debt line but, he added,
that would cause the country to fall into the "debt
trap" and would have to face IMF assistance like
other regional states.
As of now, he said, T&T was on a firmer footing
in comparison to other islands, the US and Europe,
though everyone had to be responsible in their
dealings to preserve the situation.
On $6.8m removal of firetruck...
Anil blames former
fire chief and PS
Reema Harrysingh-Carmona, wife of President Anthony Carmona, presents valedictory student
Rianna Sookram with a special token for Most All-round Student of 2013, during St Brigid's Girls'
RC School in Siparia 2013 Graduation ceremony at La Divina Pastora RC Church, yesterday
afternoon. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
Trade Minister Vasant Bharath
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