Were these Requests For Proposals ever advertised?

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“On what basis did the Keith Rowley-led Administration arbitrarily decided that only INCAT and Austal are more efficient and cost effective than any other companies from North America, Europe or the Middle East… when did the Govt designate Austral and INCAT as pre-identified suppliers, believed to be the only ones capable of performing the scope of works required by the TTCG?”

The Fourth Estatehas been reporting that the Government has solicited and are receiving proposals from Australian shipbuilders International Catamarans (INCAT) and Austal for the provision of fast ferries and a Cape Class patrol vessel for the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG).

This follows a visit to Australia a few weeks ago by Prime Minister Keith Rowley, Ministers Stuart Young and Dennis Moses, Defense Force Chief of Staff Hayden Pritchard and Footballer Dwight Yorke (whose role on a Government Official Visit has to this day remains a mystery).

In the very competitive international business of shipbuilding and procurement, which is by its very nature a very technical exercise, the Prime Minister and his delegation – none with any maritime knowledge, experience, or training and skills in vessel assessment – have unilaterally committed the country to spending over $1Billion in securing these vessels.

Were these Requests For Proposals ever advertised?

Is this a single source procurement contract that the Prime Minister singlehandedly decided on and then the Cabinet rubberstamped?

When did the Government of Trinidad and Tobago designate Austral and INCAT as pre-qualified suppliers, designated as the only ones capable of performing the scope of works required by the TTCG?

Who were their technical advisors for this decision(s)?

On what basis has the Rowley-led PNM Administration arbitrarily decided that only these two Australian companies are more efficient and cost effective than any other company from North America, Europe, the Middle East or elsewhere?

This Administration, by their blatant actions and decisions, have effectively declared that there is no possibility of another supplier with the capacity and capability to match or offer a competitive bid to Austral and INCAT and therefore has unilaterally awarded these billion-dollar contracts(s) on a non-competitive basis via a contract bid-award process, without any transparency whatsoever and going to great lengths to avoid public scrutiny.

The Rowley-led PNM Administration has blatantly emasculated the Central Tenders Board (CTB) with this unilateral action.

We now have a Prime Minister who has literally assumed the role of Trinidad and Tobago’s International Procurement Officer of Ferries and Vessels, spending billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money without any Parliamentary or CTB oversight, but simply opting to have his decision(s) and those of his select group of Cabinet Ministers as procurers rubberstamped by the Herbert George-led NIDCO Board.

Keith Rowley is by all indications now leading a Cabinet that has embraced no-bid contracts, a pattern which seems to continue uninterrupted.

The acquisition of the Galleons Passage is a classic example of all that is wrong with the Government’s new procurement modus operandi.

On January 14 2018, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced that the Government had purchased an Asian Vessel to service the Seabridge for US$17.4M (TT$120M)… no tenders, no bidding, no transparency in the process – just a “decision” by 4 Cabinet Ministers, none of whom have any technical knowledge, experience and background in vessel acquisitions (except Minister Imbert, vis the infamous MV Su).

Five months later, the vessel has not arrived in the country; costs keep mounting and the population is literally being insulted with all types of stonewalling and flimsy excuses.

If this procurement had been handled through an open tendering process, the selected supplier would have had to be adhering to the terms and conditions of delivery and would have been responsible for the costs involved in getting this vessel to Trinidad.

Instead, there is now no accountability, no respect for the enshrined principles of government contracting by enhancing fairness, no access and no transparency whatsoever from this Administration.

In short, we are now living in a Dictatorship; the Rowley-led PNM government are behaving as if they are a license unto themselves, and everyone else be damned.

Capil Bissoon


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Meeting the shipbuilders in Australia

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