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Sunday 18 August 2019
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CEPEP owes contractors millions

THE CEPEP company has paid out $500,000 to contractors who levied the company for the sum of $2 million owed to them for work completed under the last administration said Minister of Planning and Development Camille Robinson-Regis.

“There is still an outstanding amount,” she said, but was not sure of the full amount owed to contractors. “We understand there are more judgements to come,” she told the House of Representatives yesterday.

“Right now, our information is that the paperwork has been destroyed.”

Asked about the circumstances that led to the levy by contractors on CEPEP’s head office yesterday, Robinson-Regis said the total amount owed upon the PNM government taking office in 2015 was $148 million for several matters in which CEPEP had been used as a project manager for the health sector between 2010 and 2015.

The new board of CEPEP attempted to verify the contracts through the Ministry of Health to ascertain the value and whether payments should be made. “The company was not successful in achieving this,” she said. Contractors who were owed, she said, took the matters to the courts and CEPEP has received a number of pre-action protocol letters.

She said the CEPEP board “took the decision not to use its subvention money to pay these outstanding contracts as it would have further compounded and compromised the financial position of the company.”

CEPEP engaged lawyers who felt that the company’s case was not strong because completion certificates were signed off by the previous management and board.

With the courts ruling against the CEPEP company, Robinson-Regis said, “The company does not have the funds to pay the outstanding amount of $148 million left as a debt by the last administration. There was no proper documentation left to prove the amount owed to defend the amount that was being claimed.”

Asked if the Minister of Health did not proudly open the St Joseph health facility built under a CEPEP contract, she said, “That does not mean there was no corrupt practice.” CEPEP was not developed for project management contracts of the nature of the St Joseph facility, she said, and it was not the only company in which documentation was found lacking. This has led, she said, to default judgements.

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