Government is satisfied with an additional $93 million to the budget allocation for the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago as subsidies to lease a passenger vessel for the inter island service and for repairs to its two fast ferries.
This is according to Finance Minister Colm Imbert, who intervened during questions directed to Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan in the Standing Finance Committee review of the 2018 fiscal budget, on the $358.8 million allocated for this fiscal year as subsidies to the PATT on the operation of coastal steamers.
In response to queries on the significant increases over the past two years, Imbert said, “When we looked at the request from the Ministry of Works and Transport on this particular item” the two fast ferries which were acquired about ten years ago were not in a condition to be in full service in 2018.
As Government owns the two fast ferries, he said, there were no lease costs associated with them. With them being out of service there will be a need to lease a vessel.
As such, he said, “We were satisfied that this additional request for funding to ensure a proper service on the inter-island route was justified.”
In terms of estimates of repairs cost, and cost for temporary replacement of the fast ferries, Imbert said, he could not give details, except that the need to refurbish the fast ferries and leasing of the ferry came up to the additional $93 million.
Sinanan said he could not provide the costs for the repairs of the two vessels and he could not say how much the lease would cost because a tender was out for a new vessel.
Asked about the procurement process used to obtain Caribbean Dockyard to repair the two fast ferries and whether Cabinet approved funding, Sinanan said, procurement was done by the PATT.
Asked if he was satisfied with the validity and integrity of the procurement process given all that happened at the recent hearings of the Joint Select Committee on Lands and Physical Infrastructure on the procurement of the Cabo Star and Ocean Flower 2, he said, the PATT has the responsibility for managing the repairs and the procurement was approved by the board.
One of the fast ferries, he said, went on dry dock months ago and the JSC met subsequently.
Asked what the increase in the $25 million subsidy from 2016 to 2017 was used for, Sinanan said, it accounted for the procurement of the Cabo Star and expenses for dry docking of the T&T Spirit.