Moonilal asks government: Come clean on $1b to OAS

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal –

Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal is calling on the government to be honest with the debt facing the country as he claimed the State has had to pay $1 billion in damages to a contractor after losing an arbitration case.

Moonilal made the remarks during his contribution in a debate on a motion to adopt the report of the standing finance committee in the Lower House on Monday afternoon.

Referring to remarks from Minister of Finance Colm Imbert who suggested that TT’s public debt was decreasing, Moonilal argued that documents presented in the Parliament from earlier sittings contained funds that were unaccounted for.

He said the government had a responsibility to fully and comprehensively present a breakdown of all allocations and was not convinced they were being fully transparent in their presentation.

Moonilal asserted that a recent judgment from the UK ruled in favour of Brazilian construction firm OAS SA over the wrongful termination of a contract on the Point Fortin to San Fernando Highway.

He said the government, who was a party in the matter, would be required to pay the cost of damages to the company and accused the government of deliberately hiding this development from the public.

“I would like him (Imbert) to tell us whether he considered an April 16 ruling of the London Court of Arbitration that awarded to the construction company OAS, $1 billion when this government and NIDCO lost in an arbitration in London on the Solomon-Hochoy Highway, is that billion dollars part of your calculation of your declining debt?

“It cannot be part of a declining debt it’s $1 billion!

“In this arbitration, the Prime Minister in 2017 boasted, he described Minister Young as the Gary Sobers of the Cabinet. He negotiated and we got $1 billion back from the bond and they terminated the contracted of the OAS, claimed that the partnership government had interfered with the contract.

“The Prime Minister boasted, we went to court under Minister Young’s guidance, won every single case, got back $1 billion. Well they lost $1 billion in an arbitration.”

Moonilal also accused the government of taking loans to pay their judgment debts and warned that such practices were cause for concern.

During his contribution Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh who joined the debate after the Prime Minister’s contribution on Monday night also chided the Prime Minister for not addressing Moonilal’s claims.