Paria Commission of Enquiry cost $15m

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Chairman of the the Commission of Enquiry, Jerome Lynch, KC – File photo by Angelo Marcelle

THE final cost of the Commission of Enquiry (CoE) into the Paria diving tragedy was $15,689,000.

This is according to the commission’s final report, which was laid in Parliament on Friday.

The report says the commissioners – chairman Jerome Lynch, KC, and Gregory Wilson – and the legal team were paid $10,790,000.

Administrative costs for the commission up to June 2023 were $3,565,000. By November 2023, that cost had increased by $27,000.

Salaries for staff up to June 2023 were $502,000 and the estimate up to November was $305,000.

The commission also had a $500,000 contingency fee.

The report notes that the costs were subject to determination by the Auditor General.

The commission also noted the cost of other CoEs.

The cost of the Clico enquiry – which lasted three years and eight months – was over $500 million. The Udecott enquiry cost taxpayers $46.2 million and lasted 18 months. The enquiry into the 1990 attempted coup cost $31.8 million, and the Las Alturas enquiry cost $24.5 million.

The enquiry into the Point Fortin highway project, which is yet to start, has already cost taxpayers $11 million.

After giving the costs of past CoEs, the report said, “It is clear from the above analysis that this Commission of Enquiry (being the country’s most recently appointed enquiry) has achieved its work within an unprecedented period of time and at a comparatively reasonable cost to taxpayers, notwithstanding that a value cannot truly be placed on the need for the public and the families of the divers knowing the circumstances which led to these very tragic events and for the need to have policies, measures, mechanisms and systems implemented to prevent a recurrence of such tragic events.”