by Afra Raymond
The proposed development of Invader’s Bay will be the largest in our Capital City in living memory. The entire process is tainted by fundamental irregularities, any one of which ought to be enough to stop the development.
Some of those irregularities at Invader’s Bay include an improper and voidable tendering process; failure or refusal to hold Public Consultations; breach of the Central Tenders’ Board (CTB) Act and most recently, a wrong-sided policy on legal advice.
The State has appealed the High Court decision of Justice Frank Seepersad on 14 July 2014 to order publication of the legal opinions on which they had been relying thus far. That hearing is now set for Wednesday 28 January 2015 at the Appeal Court in POS. At the preliminary hearing on Thursday 20 November, the State was represented by a seven-member team of attorneys, led by Russell Martineau SC.
Minister Tewarie has repeatedly told the public that the Appraisal rules for the Invader’s Bay development were first announced in his speech to the Annual Dinner of the T&T Contractors’ Association on Saturday 5 November 2011. That is true, I was there and heard the Minister do just as he said. The issue here is that the closing-date stipulated in the Invader’s Bay Request for Proposals (RFP) was 4 October 2011, which was over one month before the rules were published. Given that fact, the proposers would not have known the rules of the competition and it is fair to say there was no competition at all. None. Just imagine the rules for a Calypso competition being distributed the week after the singers had performed. The RFP process for Invader’s Bay was therefore improper, voidable and illegal.
... continue reading Invader’s Bay – Suspicious Motives
“The entire process possesses all the ingredients for corruption, I maintain that view.”
Our friend Afra Raymond remains a solid asset to disgusted Trinis and the rest of the Caribbean in the fight against corruption by public officials. Trinidad’s Invader’s Bay scandal is representative of the types of corruption that unfortunately permeates the Caribbean, and Afra has been right on top of the story from the first moment. It is probably accurate to say that Afra’s detailed reporting on the story has the government vexed, and influences the government response and strategies.
Power of the press belongs to those who have one – and Afra has one.
Head over to Afra Raymond’s blog for the latest stories about corruption in Trinidad and Tobago.
Afra Raymond: Reality Check
by Afra Raymond
After a flurry of attempted explanations from the Minister of Planning & Sustainable Development, Dr. Bhoe Tewarie, as to the real meaning of the High Court’s 14 July ruling on the Invader’s Bay matter, the State has now appealed that ruling and applied for expedited hearing of the matter while having the judgment stayed.
What that means is that the State is asking the Court to agree an extension of the Stay of Execution until the appeal is decided, so that the requested information could be withheld while the case is being heard. Presumably, the State has asked for a speedy hearing so as to avoid any impression of them encouraging needless delay in this matter of high public concern.
This article will focus on the three critical findings in the judgment.
- Legal Professional Privilege
- Waiver of Privilege
- The Public Interest Test
I will be examining Dr. Tewarie’s statement to Parliament on Friday 18 July, alongside the facts and the actual High Court ruling…
Read the entire article at Afra Raymond’s blog: Reality Check
“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
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 –
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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“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
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
Updated August 4, 2012
Trinidad & Tobago government negotiating with businessmen for Invaders Bay Development Project
Just like in Barbados where politicians sometimes use the most elaborate schemes and deceptions to transfer public lands and other assets to the private sector without transparency or lawful process, the government of T&T is about to provide private interests with public assets at Invaders Bay. Will the public interest truly be served? And how are the people of T&T to be assured that there is nothing happening ‘on the left’ ???
Govt green light for talks on Invaders Bay
Cabinet yesterday gave approval for negotiations to begin with businessmen Derek Chin and Jerry Joseph for the Invaders Bay Development project.
Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie, speaking at the post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s said that D Chin Commercial Development Ltd’s proposal to lease a portion of the State land to construct a Streets of the World entertainment and shopping complex was accepted and negotiations will commence with market determined commercial lease rates…
… read the latest at the Trinidad Express Govt green light for talks on Invaders Bay
BFP’s original story first published April 25, 2012…
Do citizens have a right to know where and how public funds are being spent?
The land at Invader’s Bay, Trinidad was reclaimed at public expense about 10 years ago. Now Afra Raymond and the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry are trying to determine who owns the lands, and under what laws the lands were created and transferred.
Simple questions, to be sure… but the answers have not been forthcoming from the Trinidad and Tobago government. Continue reading