Moonilal alleges corruption in State enterprises

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal

OPPOSITION MP Dr Roodal Moonilal hopes Udecott does not again become a corrupt state-run enterprise. Referring to allegations which led to the setting up of a commission of enquiry in 2009, Moonilal on Wednesday, said this must not happen again.

He has also called on the Prime Minister to terminate the contract for the redevelopment of the central block at the Port of Spain General Hospital, saying it was now tainted because of the recent issue with the e-tendering process.

Speaking at a UNC meeting in Claxton Bay, Moonilal said the entire tender process must be scrapped, all tenders rejected, public request for proposal re-issued and for the chairman Noel Garcia and his board to be fired.

He also called for an independent investigation into the recent tender process.

Moonilal presented what he said were official Udecott documents, saying it was confirmed a third bidder was permitted for the hospital project after the close of the official deadline for submission.

Udecott and its internet service provider, TSTT, have maintained the tender process was above board and the three tenders were uploaded on the e-tender platform before it closed.

However, Moonilal said, “This enquiry must be launched as soon as possible. In addition, the board of directors, headed by Noel Garcia, must be replaced for presiding over the contravention of the corporation’s own rules.”

Tenders were invited after Shanghai Construction Group (SCG) pulled out of the contract.

Speaking to Newsday, in early June, Garcia said the tender process was scrupulously followed and the issue of restarting the bidding process did not arise.

He said the contract was awarded to Universal Structures Ltd, as it had submitted the lowest tender. Yorke Structures Ltd and Steel Structures Ltd also submitted bids.

Moonilal insisted the process should be investigated by the Anti Corrpution Investigtions Bureau and the police.

“TT could ill-afford Udecott once more becoming a rogue taxpayer-owned entity.”

Moonilal also called for an investigation of alleged financial irregularities at the Rural Development Company, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government, headed by Faris Al-Rawi

Pointing to the poor state of roads, Moonilal said rehabilitation attempts have been riddled with corruption, bid-rigging and improper procurement procedures.

He alleged there were irregularities in the award of a contract for road works in Mon Repos, San Fernando.

He said the engineer’s estimates were made available to contactors by a senior executive even before the bidding process and called on the company’s CEO to provide an answers.

“This is a dreadful breach of all tendering rules and principles. This is manifest bid-rigging and patently improper procurement. It is bobol involving the people’s money. It is a criminal offense.”

He said the contract was not awarded to lowest bidder, but the lowest bidder ended up doing the job as a sub-contractor.

“The company did not have wheel barrows, did not have shovels, did not have forks to do the job, but they won the bid.

“As soon as they won the bid for $3.8 million, they hired the fellar who had the lowest bid and hired him as a sub-contractor for $2.8 million and made $1 million overnight.

“That is the kind of scandal we are dealing with in this country.”

Moonilal said while the Prime Minister made wild accusations with respect to Estate Management Business Development Company during the PP’s tenure, “here is stark evidence of insider information, sharing of the engineer’s estimates, and bid-rigging,” he said.

“These are all serious fraud with the country’s scarce financial resources,”

He called on Al-Rawi to shed light on this matterand cause a police investigation to be launched.