OROPOUCHE East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal has described the missing Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme’s (CEPEP) expenditure records for the period 2013 to 2015, as a “known PNM trick” to deny contractors monies owed to them.
Last Friday, CEPEP chairman Ashton Ford said there was no trace of the accounting information which amounted to $1.5 billion, on the company’s computer system. Ford said the records relate to the company’s expenses including payments to contractors and staff for that period.
However, speaking at a press conference at the Port of Spain office of the Leader of the Opposition yesterday, Moonilal said the audited report for the period 2009-2014 could be found in the Parliamentary record of the Public Enterprise Committee.
He then held aloft a brightly coloured document titled, "The public enterprise committee, second session of the 11th Parliament - examination of the audited accounts, balance sheets and other financial statements of the CEPEP company for the financial years 2009- 2014."
“Now this is a parliamentary report that deals with examining CEPEP audited financial accounts. Now you cannot have a document like this if you are missing information on 1.5 billion dollars or so from CEPEP. If you missing information from contractors, all the records, you cannot have independent audited financial statements like these that went to the Parliament that the Parliament accepted.”
But in a telephone interview, Ford rubbished each of the statements made by both Moonilal and UNC chairman David Lee saying there were no supporting documents for the period under review.
“Where is the supporting documents to justify the cost because this a build up to the 2015 accounts and we can’t get the 2015 accounts because the system crashed and we can’t get it."
Ford also dismissed an Opposition claim that the board was holding meetings at a restaurant as there was no furniture at its Ste Madeleine headquarters.
He said the People’s Partnership administration had moved CEPEP away from its original mandate to focus on the environment and begun to build community and health centres.
Moonilal said CEPEP representatives had not told a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee on December 7, 2016 that its audited accounts could not be found. He said that meeting dealt with the examination of audited accounts, balance sheets and other financial statements. “So this is just a guise to deny contractors monies being owed for projects done over the years,” Moonilal said.