Tag Archives: Government Corruption

Bold-faced thieves, reckless public officials will destroy post-independence Caribbean

Once again our old friend Afra Raymond does his research and sounds the clarion: Everything Caribbean nations have achieved is at risk because of crooked politicians, bad lawyers and corrupt judges…

The Threat to Integrity – part 4

by Afra Raymond

by Afra Raymond

I am fully in support of a vigorous and conscientious Integrity Commission (IC).  I do not want to see the IC abolished or sidelined.  The IC must realign its limited resources to ensure a decisive impact on the conduct of Public Officials.  The proposals contained in its 2012 Annual Report show clearly that the Gordon Commission has started to seriously grapple with that challenge.

The derailment of the IC between 2004 and 2009 is a clear example of what can happen to an Independent Commission if we do not maintain vigilant oversight.

This matter is of the greatest interest for those of us campaigning for Public Procurement reform so as to get effective control over all transactions in Public Money.  The arrangements we are proposing include new Independent Commissions/Officeholders.  It is therefore critical that we learn the lessons from this debacle so as to safeguard the bodies we are proposing.  The stakes are very high for our nation’s Integrity Framework, which must be strengthened, with swifter resolution of allegations.

To continue in the current manner is to drag the system into further disrepute, encourage even more bold-faced thieves, more reckless public officials and we can expect complete loss of the residual respect for the post-independence civilization we have tried to grow.  That would be an ugly and violent future for our society, so this episode requires stern and conscientious examination. Continue reading

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Filed under Corruption, Crime & Law, Political Corruption, Trinidad and Tobago

When government enriches carpetbaggers at the expense of the Public Interest

“Sound land administration policy appears to have been abandoned for expediency.”

“Where is the basic due diligence?  These sorts of schemes should not even get past the first gatekeeper, far less into the Cabinet for consideration.”

Calcutta Settlement again

by Afra Raymond

by Afra Raymond

In light of the many questions raised by readers after the last article on the Housing Development Corporation’s purchase of land at ‘Eden Gardens‘ in Calcutta Settlement, I am continuing there.

The previous article discussed the Calcutta Settlement scheme and its relation to implementation of national housing policy.  There is little, if any, connection between the provision of affordable housing and the acquisition of those ‘Eden Gardens‘ lands, at what is surely the highest price in Central Trinidad.  How we create and implement a progressive housing policy is a critical part of this discourse, but there is more.

Another important aspect of this episode is the fact that sound land administration policy appears to have been abandoned for expediency.  Expediency should never eclipse proper policy, especially when neither the process nor end-result advance the ultimate objective of serving our citizens.

The sidelining of sound land administration policy was essential in order to get the Calcutta Settlement scheme approved.  National Land Administration policy is important so that we can be strategic in using the country’s property assets for proper national development, as opposed to the enrichment of a select few.

The State is a unique player in our country’s land arena, so we need to place this Calcutta Settlement episode into proper context from a land administration viewpoint.  Continue reading

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Afra Raymond: Tangled webs in the Tobago House of Assembly – Part II

by Afra Raymond

by Afra Raymond

BOLT and Calcutta: “A hundred million here, a hundred million there – pretty soon you’re talking real money.”

Two weeks ago in Barbados Free Press I set out my main concerns in relation to poor procurement processes with the Tobago House of Assembly BOLT project.  A large amount of Public Money was being committed to a project with little apparent regard to Value for Money concerns in an arrangement which seems to expose the THA to the principal risks at a time of limited financial resources.

This article is a critical examination of the controversial proposed purchase of 50.6 acres of land at Calcutta Settlement by the Housing Development Corporation (HDC).

The HDC’s role is to build and maintain homes to satisfy the requirements of its main client, the Ministry of Housing and the Environment.  According to that Ministry -

The Corporation is mandated by the Act to:

  • Provide affordable shelter and associated community facilities for low and middle income persons and;
  • Carry out the broad policy of the Government in relation to housing.

With over 125,000 applicants on the HDC’s waiting-list, there is no doubt that, for many poor people, the HDC is their only hope of getting a reasonably affordable home of decent quality.  That means that the HDC is an important implementing agency in our nation’s welfare provisions, which is a role I fully support. Continue reading

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Afra Raymond: Tangled webs of Tobago House of Assembly, BOLT and Calcutta

“…Lindquist and Interpol officers had discovered more than $1billion stashed away in off-shore accounts, arising out of corruption in the airport project…”

Tobago House of Assembly BOLT

by Afra Raymond

by Afra Raymond

With the Tobago House of Assembly THA elections having become a kind of national contest, the issues of governance and integrity loom large.  The two relevant controversial issues, both of which emerged late last year, were the THA/BOLT office project and the HDC’s proposed purchase of land at Calcutta No. 2 Settlement.

Both those projects have given me serious cause for concern in terms of proper public procurement practice, so much so that I see them as being two sides of the same coin.  Both these cases are models of inadvisable dealings in Public Money of a type which no prudent or reputable company would undertake.  I am choosing my words carefully since recent reports are that litigation has already started on the THA/BOLT project and there may well be further legal action on both projects as we go forward…

I do not at all agree with the widespread myth that corruption is a minor thing which adds maybe 10% or 15% to the cost of projects. 

That misinformation is nothing but public mischief which has blinded us to the scale of the theft of Public Money, so it must be completely demolished.  In the case of the 1970s to 1980s ‘Government to Government Arrangements’ the then PM, George Chambers, told the nation that two out of every three ‘Petro-dollars’ was wasted or stolen.  In the ongoing imbroglio over the $1.6Bn Piarco Airport project, we learned from the DPP’s S.34 statement that $1.0Bn of Public Money had been located in offshore bank accounts.

This article deals with the THA/BOLT project, which is a Public Private Partnership. The PPP is a procurement model now being pursued by this government, according to the strategy outlined in the 2013 budget.

The DPP’s S.34 Statement on Wednesday September 12, 2012

“…These cases involve allegations of a conspiracy to defraud the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago of over TT$1 billion by the fraudulent use of bonds and the rigging of the contracts for the various Construction packages for the Piarco Airport Project…”

The DPP’s full statement is here.

Also, from “Cops target MP in $1Bn airport scam” in Trinidad Guardian of Friday 5 March, 2004 –

“…TV6 News reported last night that Lindquist and Interpol officers had discovered more than $1billion stashed away in off-shore accounts, arising out of corruption in the airport project…”

BOLT

Build Own Lease Transfer (BOLT) is a subset of the PPP procurement method.  Under a BOLT arrangement a client has a facility built by the private sector at their expense – the client makes agreed rental payments so that the developer can cover the cost of building the project and a reasonable profit.  At the end of the agreed lease period, the facility is transferred to the client. Continue reading

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Afra Raymond’s incredible message at TEDx Conference

The Three sides of Corruption

“We are dealing with perverts here, of an economic and financial nature.”

                  Piarco Airport Project 1996-2001

                              Entire project cost:  $1.6 billion

Traced to offshore bank accounts:  $1.0 billion

If the above video doesn’t work for you, try this link.

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Trinidad and Tobago

Gline Clarke talks from experience, says Goverment should help folks build a home!

Government Minister Clarke: love nest on expropriated land. Barbados news media let it pass!

Gline Clarke, Member for St. George North, said in Parliament the other day that government should be giving long term land leases and help folks to acquire mortgages to build homes.

Fair enough. On this small island where land is at a premium and Town Planning permissions to build turn scrub land into gold, there has to be some government control and oversight. But without Integrity Legislation and Freedom of Information, who will watch over the government people?

So give folks access to land and homes.

But when a Minister of Government like Gline Clarke ends up living on land his government expropriated…

Well, that’s something else, isn’t it?

How about it, Mr. Clarke? In five years you haven’t answered the people of Barbados about how you, as a Minister of Government, ended up living in a home on land that your government expropriated.

Your government never paid for the land after expropriating it, but that’s a pretty common story ’bout hey.

Man, if this was New Jersey or the UK, the news media woulda been all over the story. But this is Barbados.

So the newspapers ignored the story, but the people and the blogs doan forget!

Further Reading

Barbados Advocate: Opposition MP wants government allocate land to the poor.

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Crime & Law, Ethics, Freedom Of Information, Political Corruption, Politics & Corruption

Barbados Court does government’s will: Tells Al Barrack he’s screwed

AS IF the Barbados Courts would really rule against the government for $65 million!

Contractor Al Barrack is owed $65 million by the Government of Barbados and the Barbados justice system ruled that he is owed the money for the office building he constructed – or at least started to construct until unknown and hidden caves under the building site changed everything.

Oh, but now he wants his money or to seize and sell the building and other government assets to help pay what the government owes him. Ha! Fool that Barrack is! He thought justice was for all.

The courts will keep this man going round in circles until he dies because on an island of fewer than 300,000 people EVERYTHING is politics including the court. Doing business with the government of Barbados is fine, fine so fine… until something goes wrong. And then, my friend, you have to turn to the government run courts to seek “justice”. As so many have found, the courts will keep you going round and round for ten or fifteen or twenty years and by that time you’re crazy looking for justice and you dress in whiteface and hold signs and stand on the corner and shout and be laughed at.

Beware when you do business with the government of Barbados, because the court is the government and the government is the court.

Like we said in our past article Al Barrack gets it wrong again – it’s not racism, it’s business as usual

“All because a government construction contract went bad FOR THE GOVERNMENT because of an unknown cave under the project.

Welcome to the wonderful world of doing business with the Government of Barbados, Mr. Barrack. Like a male praying mantis seeking a little love, it’s thrilling but often ends badly for the little guy.”

mostly contributed by Al’s Friend.

Strong language removed by Auntie Moses.

Here is the latest on the Driving Al Barrack Crazy and enjoying every minute of it story from Barbados Today. As usual we ask BFP readers to read the story at Barbados Today, but we’re reprinting the entire story here because you know how the press changes history ’bout hey. Haven’t caught Barbados Today doing that just yet, but ya never know!

NHC break

Court rules stay on Al Barrack writ against government

by Shawn Cumberbatch

The protracted and controversial battle between the National Housing Corporation and Al Barrack, over the $65 million the state agency owes the contractor, has taken a new and significant turn.

Barbados’ High Court has just put the brakes on a previously-issued writ of fieri facias commanding the chief marshal to sell the NHC’s “goods, chattels and property” to clear the massive debt, saying if such was allowed to proceed “the statutory functions performed by the corporation at its various locations across Barbados, and in particular at its head offices at Reef Road would be severely dislocated without (Barrack) achieving any substantial reduction in the amount owed”. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Culture & Race Issues, Offshore Investments, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption, Race