THE Land and Physical Infrastructure joint select committee (JSC) of the Parliament may require more than one hearing to understand the entire process surrounding the controversial procurement and acquisition of the Cabo Star and the Ocean Flower II vessels for the domestic seabridge. The JSC is scheduled to hold an in-camera meeting, followed by a live televised public hearing at Tower D of the Port-of-Spain International Waterfront Centre.
This committees is one of several regular JSCs of the Parliament and is chaired by Independent Senator Stephen Creese. Other members include Energy Minister Franklin Khan, Sports Minister Daryl Smith, Opposition Senator Wade Mark and Mayaro MP Rushton Paray. Given the complexity of the issues surrounding the procurement of these vessels, sources told Newsday yesterday that one hearing with the various stakeholders may not be sufficient to provide the committee with all the information it needs to submit a report on this issue to Parliament.
Sources said this determination will be made "by the collective" which is all members of the JSC. Newsday was also advised that the committee's secretariat has advised its members that Creese has set September 4 as the date for hearing of this matter. Correspondence to various stakeholders requesting their attendance at that hearing are in the process of being sent out.
Anyone who fails to appear pursuant to a summons from the committee could be reported to the Attorney General who could take the matter to court and possible resulting in the person being fined $1000 or face imprisonment for one year. Once the committee's report is tabled in Parliament, its contents could be debated if the relevant motion is approved.
Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan will be given 60 days to act on the committee's recommendations of the committee. Sinanan could either reject or accept the recommendations within the 60-day period. The JSC can monitor Sinanan's actions or inactions in this period. Sinanan was involved yesterday in a meeting between Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and other stakeholders on the domestic seabridge at the Magdalena Grand Hotel in Tobago.
Checks on the Parliament's website showed no meetings scheduled as yet for the Land and Physical Infrastructure JSC. However the Social Services and Public Administration JSC has public hearing in the ANR Robinson East room of Tower D on September 13 at 10.15 am. The Human Rights, Equality and Diversity JSC has an in-camera meeting at Tower D on September 8 at 11 am.
Parliament is currently on its mid-year recess and is scheduled to resume its sittings next month.