A special joint select committee of Parliament to inquire into the process surrounding the controversial procurement and acquisition of the Cabo Star and the Ocean Flower II ships will sit at 1pm on September 4. The committee will be chaired by independent senator Stephen Creese.
The stakeholders involved in the process are expected to appear before the committee to reveal what exactly happened. The Port Authority board, the management of the Trinidad and Tobago Inter-Island Ferry as well as Tobago hoteliers and other key players are expected to participate. Consideration is also being given to invite members of the Truckers Association and former head of the Public Service, Reginald Dumas, to have their say on the matter.
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.
Sources told Newsday the committee is expected to compile a report after the sitting and this would be tabled in Parliament. The Minister of Works will then be given 60 days to act on the recommendations of the committee. The minister could either reject or accept the recommendations but he must do so within the 60-day period. The committee will have the power to monitor the actions or inaction of the minister.
Newsday understands the JSC is now in the process of informing the relevant stakeholders, through its secretariat, of its intention to have them appear. The hearings will be televised live and even members of the public, who may have information to assist the committee in their deliberations, may be given the opportunity to do so.
Two investigations are being conducted into the procurement of the Cabo Star, a cargo vessel, and the Ocean Flower II, a passenger ferry. One is being carried out by businessman Christian Mouttet who was appointed by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and he is expected to deliver his report in one month’s time, while the Integrity Commission is carrying out the other.
While the Cabo Star is in operation on the seabridge between Trinidad and Tobago, the Government has cancelled the contract with the Ocean Flower II. Newsday understands there may be some legal challenge to the decision by the Ocean Flower’s Canada-based owners Bridgeman’s Service Group.