Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young yesterday described former minister Devant Maharaj's complaint about the proposed Sandals Beach Resort in Tobago to the Integrity Commission as unpatriotic and "even traitor-like" from someone who claims to be a patriot. Young told Newsday he saw a report about Maharaj's complaint and said he found it to be "astonishing."
The minister said Government has publicly committed from the onset to provide full details about this project. However he said the proposal for the construction of a Sandals resort in Tobago remains at the stage of conversation and no decision has been taken with regards to this project. Young said all that Maharaj is doing is unnecessarily attacking, "a process which is part of a diversification plan" for this country's economy.
At a post Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann's on August 17, Young said there will be transparency on whatever agreement is reached to build a Sandals Beach Resort in Tobago. He was optimistic that an announcement on the project would be made soon. In his letter to the Commission, Maharaj alleged that Government had awarded a management contract to Sandals last year. He claimed this was done without any tendering process and Sandals will be, "the recipient of a variety of lucrative concessions."
Maharaj based all of his information on media reports. He also linked this complaint to the previous complaint which he made to the Commission on the procurement of the Cabo Star and Ocean Flower 2 vessels for the domestic seabridge. The Commission is currently investigating this complaint. Maharaj alleged that in both cases, Government is, "is willing to sacrifice proper procurement process."
He also claimed Government is using the current economic challenges facing TT as the camouflage to, "short-circuit the procurement process to use procurement by invitation. . Maharaj warned, "If left unexamined, this will set the stage for a dangerous precedent in the procurement practices of the State in the future. Hefurther alleged that in early 2015, then Opposition Leader (now Prime Minister) Dr Keith Rowley spoke with Sandals owner Gordon Butch Stewart about the possibility of a Sandals resort being established in Tobago. Rowley previously indicated that part of the Buccoo Estate in Tobago is the site for the proposed resort.