Tag Archives: Corruption

The ‘Grand Corruption’

afra raymond CMMB

by Afra Raymond

The recent scandals at LifeSport, Eden Gardens, THA/BOLT, CAL, CL Financial and of course, the Beetham Water Recycling Project, all show the extent to which the Treasury is being targeted by well-connected parties.

There is a constant stream of allegations of ‘Grand Corruption’, which is little surprise in our society in which an unsupported allegation is so often used to discredit an opponent. There is no comfort to be had in that observation, since the other reality is that thorough investigations and prosecutions are only done against ones political enemies, inside or outside the ruling party. That is the sobering reality in our Republic, in which we should all enjoy equal rights and be held to common standards. Different strokes for different folks, just like back in the ‘bad-old-days‘.

It seems to me that the defining question, in terms of whether the various financial crimes are taken seriously, is whether the accused persons are ‘members in good standing‘, so to speak.

The extent to which our Treasury is protected from being plundered by criminal elements is a serious question which should concern every citizen, given that the Public Money in the Treasury belongs to us as citizens and taxpayers. The frequency with which these financial crimes are overlooked is nothing less than scandalous, as any of the Auditor General’s Reports in the previous decade would attest. Permanent Secretaries approving payments in breach of financial regulations; payments made with no documents (leases, contracts or agreements) on file; failure or refusal to produce documents as required by law upon the Auditor General’s request and so many other types of lawbreaking. The same types of conduct is also rife in State Enterprises, which is why so many of the larger ones are unable to produce accounts as required by the very Ministry of Finance which sets those rules and continues to fund them.

The wicked part is that these Public Officials are virtually never charged with breaking the law or made to face any other serious consequences for their misbehaviour in Public Office. We need a new beginning in terms of how we handle the reality of our country’s wealth and its intentionally-degraded laws for controlling how our Public Money is used. A big part of that would be a political dispensation in which full investigations and prosecutions were the norm, especially when key members of the ruling party are the target of allegations.

Our budgeting process now shows all the signs that our system of Public Financial Management is ineffective in dealing with the seasoned criminals who are hard at work helping themselves to our money, whatever the political party in power. At that level, at least, there is little evidence of discrimination.

… read the full article at Afra Raymond’s blog For a Few Dollars More

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St. Vincent & The Grenadines tables a Bill to make corruption legal!

st_vincent_the_grenadines flag

“All  actions by the Passport Officer in relation to the issuing of a passport and the charging and collecting of fees which were validated by subsections (1) and (2) respectively are validated and declared to have been lawful and the Passport Officer and every person acting on behalf of the Passport Officer are freed, acquitted, discharged and indemnified as well against the Queen’s Most Gracious Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors as against all other persons from all proceedings of any kind in respect of or consequent on any such actions.”

… all selling of citizenships and passports in the past is forgiven! (Amendments to law before Parliament on Monday June 2, 2014)

Passports and Citizenships for Sale – Get ‘em while they are hot!

by Peter Binose

Has someone done something wrong that the ULP government want to bum rush this disgusting piece of legislation through Parliament? Whose arse are they trying to save? Is this an Act to make corruption legal?

What it say’s is that the passports issued in New York and elsewhere for inflated sums of money, those involved will now be reciprocally pardoned from any crime or wrong doing. Yes its an act to make past mal practice legal and non-actionable.

The question I ask, was any family member of the ruling party government involved in past passport renewal? New York, Washington? What happened?

Here ya go!

SAINT  VINCENT  AND THE GRENADINES BILL
FOR  ACT NO                                OF  2014
ASSENT

AN ACT to amend the Passport Act, Chapter 115.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the House of Assembly of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and by the authority of the same, as follows: Continue reading

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Barbados Attorney General admits Integrity Legislation is dead, dead, dead

BFP:

When this article was first published in July of 2012, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite was still lying to the people that his DLP government really intended to enact the long promised Integrity Legislation.
That was then. Today Brathwaite and the DLP don’t even bother to promise. They lied, we elected them. They lied again and we elected them again. Bajan politicians: laughing all the way to the bank… in Switzerland.

Originally posted on Barbados Free Press:

Integrity Legislation has no chance and Adriel Brathwaite knows it!

Hey folks:

The Bajan news media isn’t carrying the real story. The Nation and the rest are repeating the government line like they rely upon the government advertising to survive…

Oh… wait… The mainstream Bajan news outlets do rely upon government advertising to survive! Do you think that impacts their editorial decisions? We think it does and that any citizen can see that our news media isn’t giving us the truth. Here at BFP we say that the Bajan news media sold their souls a long time ago and consequently the public is fed a version of the news that is less than citizens deserve.

Attorney General Adrel Brathwaite says:

“Legislatively, we have the anti-corruption legislation which is before a joint committee of Parliament. We had promised that we would have that done before the end of the year. It’s…

View original 2,772 more words

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Report of Conflict of Interest: Saint Vincent PM Ralph Gonsalves said to own 2 LIAT aircraft

UPDATED January 23, 2014: NICE Radio apologizes to PM Gonsalves for inaccurately repeating BFP story!

Hey folks, NICE Radio has apologized to Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves for claiming that the PM owns two LIAT aircraft, and blames BFP.

Well guess what: NICE Radio must have inaccurately reported our article and left out the part where we say…

“That is if Skyhigh is correct, and he is anonymous so take that with lots of salt. BFP is only an anonymous blog ya know!

But now that Skyhigh identified the exact aircraft, we think that PM Gonsalves should clear the air…

Well, Prime Minister Gonsalves… do you or any of your family have anything to do with leasing aircraft to LIAT?

Yes, or no?”

Interesting though: St. Vincent has no integrity legislation and we don’t see the PM himself making a statement denying that he or his family own any interest in the aircraft leased to LIAT. Hey… maybe it’s the Mongoose Gang that’s behind all this?

Original story published January 17, 2014…

DHC-8-300 Dash 8 LIAT V2-LGI V2-LGI (click photo for large)

“The Prime Minister of St.Vincent thinks he is Chavez but he has a long way to go… however we all know he is just protecting his investment because he owns airplanes that he leases to LIAT. (V2-LGI AND V2-GG)
So In fact if LIAT shuts down he will loose considerably…”

BFP reader Skyhigh on The not so secret LIAT Airlines incident

American Airlines pilot and Barbados Free Press reader Skyhigh says that the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, owns two of the aircraft leased to LIAT airlines.

The deHavilland / Bombardier Dash 8 300 Series airliners carry registrations V2-LGI and V2-GG.

The conflict of interest arises because SVG is one of the major shareholders in LIAT. Government funds are involved and Prime Minister Gonsalves is heavily involved in decision making about the airline.   Continue reading

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Afra Raymond on Invader’s Bay: “A large-scale act of intentional illegality…”

“If that is the advice the State is relying upon in advancing their Invader’s Bay proposals, we are seeing a large-scale act of intentional illegality and a worrying return to the ‘bad-old-days‘.”

by Afra Raymond

by Afra Raymond

Since my previous article on this controversial proposal, we have seen that certain legal advice reportedly considered by the government has been featured in another newspaper, The Guardian.  If that is the advice the State is relying upon in advancing their Invader’s Bay proposals, we are seeing a large-scale act of intentional illegality and a worrying return to the ‘bad-old-days‘.

My main concerns are -

CONSULTATION?

Compare the lack of consultation at Invader’s Bay with what happens elsewhere.  In particular, the large waterfront lands near the city centre of San Fernando at  King’s Wharf, which has been the subject of ongoing public consultations over the years.  The press reports that various design and redevelopment concepts were presented to and discussed with a widely-based audience.

Whatever the criticisms one might make of the King’s Wharf proposals, it is undeniable that views have been sought from the public/stakeholders and various proposals have been made for consideration.

The JCC and its Kindred Associations in Civil Society met with Ministers Tewarie and Cadiz on 26 September 2011 to express our serious concerns.  Yet, when Minister Tewarie was challenged by the JCC and others as to the complete failure to consult with the public, the only example of consultation he could cite was the very meeting we had insisted on, which took place after publication of the Ministry’s Request for Proposals (RFP) and just about one week before the closing-date for proposals.

This Minister obviously does not consider public consultation to be a serious element in real development, notwithstanding the lyrics about innovation, planning and, of course, Sustainability and the Cultural Sector.  Just consider the way in which East Port-of-Spain is being discussed within that same Ministry.  The prospects for sustainable economic development of East POS must be linked with the Invader’s Bay lands, there is no doubt about that.  What is more, to carry-on as though the two parts of the capital can enjoy prosperity in isolation from each other is to trade in dangerous nonsense.

When criticising the large-scale physical development plans of the last administration, ‘dangerous nonsense’ is exactly what I had accused them of dealing in. Continue reading

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‘Political Terrorism’ is not too strong a phrase…

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Is this debates commission playing power politics with our elections?

by Phillip Edward Alexander

How could the debates commission in all good conscience include the ILP ‘one man party’ and the MSJ ‘not yet a party’ in the electoral debates and exclude the COP which has seats and corporations under its control?

See why I continue to say that the Chamber of Commerce could NEVER be trusted to handle the debates fairly and without attempting to control outcomes through underhanded moves?

This is an outrage of epic proportions. I am incensed and every Trinidadian should be as well.

And I am no supporter of the COP or its leader; but right is right and if you can include David Abdulah’s imitation ‘wanna be party’ you are morally obligated to include this country’s third largest political party or the entire debate would be a sham.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

COP Demands Equal Access to Local Government Debates
Calls on Debate Commission to Reverse Outrageous Decision Restricting Access to Key Public Dialogue
Continue reading

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Trinidad: Invader’s Bay payday?

invaders bay Trinidad (click image for large)

“Ministers of the Government and others employed in the various Ministries must begin to appreciate that laws are there to be followed both by the Government and by members of the public alike.”

Expediency must never be allowed to take priority over principle.

by Afra Raymond

by Afra Raymond

Invader’s Bay has re-emerged from the shadows via PNM Senator Faris Al-Rawi’s budget contribution (PDF) on Monday 23 September 2013 (pp. 168-175).  The twists and turns in this controversial proposed scheme are detailed at the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry – JCC’s webpage here.

Invader’s Bay is a 70-acre parcel of reclaimed State land off the Audrey Jeffers Highway – just south of PriceSmart & MovieTowne – in the western part of Port-of-Spain.  Its value was estimated by the State in 2011 to be in excess of $1.2Bn, so these are prime development lands, possessing these attributes -

  • Water, Electricity and all urban services are readily available;
  • Flat/gently-sloping terrain;
  • Direct access to Audrey Jeffers Highway;
  • Waterfront location.

Before proceeding to the latest revelations, it is important to restate the main objections raised by the JCC and others with respect to this proposed development -

  • The Request for Proposals (RFP) was published by the Ministry of Planning in August 2011 seeking Design-Build proposals for the development of these lands and specifying an entirely inadequate 6 weeks for submissions;
  • There has been no public consultation at all, so the public has not been involved in this, the largest proposed development in our capital in living memory;
  • The RFP was silent as to the other three, extant strategic plans for the POS area, all paid for with Public Money.  Given that the RFP was published by the Ministry of Planning, that is a tragic irony, to say the least;
  • EIA – The RFP is silent as to the requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment in a development of this scale;
  • The proposals were to be evaluated against the “Invader’s Bay Development Matrix and Criteria Description”, which was only published after the closing-date for submissions.  That is a clear breach of proper tender procedure, which renders the entire process voidable and therefore illegal.

The key points Al-Rawi was advancing seemed to be based on certain leaked Cabinet papers, but not having seen them, there is little detailed comment I can give.

Al-Rawi stated that the Government has agreed to lease parts of the property to two developers – DACHIN Ltd (Derek Chin, the MovieTowne man) and Invaders Bay Mariner Development Company (Jerry Joseph).  He also claimed that those leases are to be granted at the land value quoted by the developer/s’ valuer -$74psf – which is a small fraction of the valuations obtained from the Commissioner of Valuations – $511psf – and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the independent consultant retained by the State – $436psf.

According to Al-Rawi -

…The developers are saying, “Hold on, you need to look at this from a residual valuation approach”, and on a residual valuation approach they are saying, “Remember we have to do infrastructural work, we are only going to get a residue of this land coming into our hands, therefore, we want a residual value approach…   Continue reading

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