Outrage grows over UDeCOTT – Ramesh, independent senator call for Govt to fire UDeCOTT board

(Trinidad Express) Outrage continues to build, both within the People’s National Movement and in the wider community, over the decision to stop for four months the Commission of Enquiry into UDeCOTT and the Construction Sector established by the Cabinet; a decision which came at the insistence of the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT), in clear defiance of the wishes of Attorney General John Jeremie, conveyed first to the company’s attorneys in the Parliament chamber during a House of Representatives meeting and confirmed to the Senate on Thursday during the debate on the Validation Bill. Independent Senator Dana Seetahal, whose question provoked Jeremie’s assurances to the Parliament on Thursday, said on Saturday:

“If the position stays as it is and nothing happens from the Government, it means that Government is in collusion with UDeCOTT that Government wants the commission to be stayed indefinitely. All this ole talk about UDeCOTT’s rights, UDeCOTT is not a person, it is a company in which the Government is sole shareholder. Government can fire the board.

I don’t think a State board should be acting contrary to the publicly expressed will of the Government”. On Jeremie’s statements to Parliament, Seetahal noted: “If UDeCOTT can mislead the attorney general, that is another reason for firing the board”.

For many, Government’s explanations regarding UDeCOTT are hard to accept, given that mere days ago, this very Government directed the Public Transport Service Corporation and the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago not to pursue a matter in the industrial court because Government deemed it to be contrary to its policy.

“If they can do this, they can direct UDeCOTT not to insist on a stay of the proceedings of the commission,” one supporter said.

“There are many analogies. But the one staring you straight in the face is TSTT, which is 51 per cent State-owned, whereas UDeCOTT is 100 hundred (per cent) State-owned. It looks bad when you make the contrast.

And it looks worse when the attorney general gets up in the Senate and says ‘my understanding is that they not doing this’ and the next day they do it,” a PNM party stalwart stated yesterday.

Another “PNM till ah dead” supporter stated: “It looks terrible. It couldn’t look worse. And it makes you begin to think about whether the non-gazetting of the commission was really an accident, or if it was a deliberate thing”.

“I can’t understand how this Government is allowing itself to be brought to its knees. The only way that they can save this situation is for the Cabinet to dismiss the UDeCOTT board,” the member stated. Today, Tabaquite MP Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, the man who first made revelations about an alleged relationship between UDeCOTT boss Calder Hart and CH Development Company (the company which won a $367 million contract for the construction of the Legal Affairs Towers), which led to the establishment of the Commission of Enquiry by Prime Minister Patrick Manning, holds a media conference at the Rotunda, Red House, Port of Spain, on the issue.

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