CHARTERED surveyor Afra Raymond has won the right to have a case argued in the court, to have the right to certain documents, which so far have been kept secret, involving government's deal with the Sandals resort to construct a 500-750-room hotel in Tobago.
Justice Frank Seepersad this morning ruled in favour of Raymond in the San Fernando High Court, and also granted him leave to seek judicial review of government's decision to withold details about the Sandals deal. Finance Minister Colm Imbert reiterated in the 2018-19 budget the construction of the hotel for Sandals' Golden Grove, Tobago project.
But way back in March, Raymond had sought disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, in letters to the Prime Minister's office, of the memorandum of understanding (MOU), but got no reply. In a lawsuit for judicial review of government's inaction in furnishing him with the MOU, Raymond contended that the resort will be constructed on prime state lands in Tobago, the cost of which the State will bear for Sandals.
Further, Raymond submitted in an affidavit, its construction will have an impact on the use of water, electricity, solid waste and further infrastructural development of the airport in Tobago. The consultant valuer and surveyor contended that as a result, the relevant stakeholders ought to have been consulted.
Raymond named the permanent secretary to the Prime Minister as respondent in the lawsuit. Attorney Kingsley Walesby represented him and Seeperasd delivered an oral ruling this morning. The judge granted Raymond a declaration that he was entitled to have his judicial review lawsuit argued, to determine whether the MOU should be provided to him.
The State was not represented but the case will come up for a case management conference on October 29. It is expected that by then, the Attorney General's department will have been served with the lawsuit and will file a response.
Editors note: This story has been adjusted.