St Augustine MP Prakash Ramadhar yesterday flatly objected to the House of Representatives about news that a Cabinet sub-committee will source a new inter-island ferry. Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young had told Thursday’s post-Cabinet news briefing that the repeated stymieing of the Port Authority’s efforts at procurement has led Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to name a subcommittee chaired by Finance Minister Colm Imbert to find a ferry.
Ramadhar said, “I am hearing Mr Prime Minister – I hope, I hope that I got it wrong from the news because there’s so much ‘fake news’ about – that the Cabinet under the prime minister’s direction put together a committee manned by ministers to assist in the procurement of a ferry for our beloved brothers and sisters in Tobago.
“When have we arrived at a position when politicians have the authority to determine procurement?” Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George told him to stick to the bill. Ramadhar replied, “The tie is clear. The rope is as strong as you could get. We dealing here with corruption.” Attorney-General Faris Al-Rawi objected. Annisette-George again told Ramadhar to stay relevant to the bill.
Ramadhar retorted that Young had earlier opened the debate by saying it is about corruption. Ramadhar said, “I ask, we bring all of this flattering legislation – ‘flattering’ not in the sense of commendation but ‘flattering’ in the sense of a fowl with its head cut off – where is the implementation of procurement legislation?”
Asking why the Government has not effected procurement reform in its two and a half years in office, Ramadhar said, “The population doesn’t want to hear about mutual assistance; they want to hear about local assistance.”