Press Statement FFOS 2020 Wish List Date: January 2nd, 2020
As we enter another new year, the FFOS 2020 Wish List is for our Government to:
1. Heed the warnings of the Auditor General Reports (2015-2018) and stop endorsing the “honour/good faith basis” (an unverified reporting system) in which quarries and oil and gas extractors “self-declare” what volume they produce or extract. This practice encourages under-reporting and may result in “tax leakages” that defraud the national patrimony of billions in Royalty revenues annually.
2. Make public all contracts signed between the extractive sector and the Government so as to ensure that we are paid fair “value for volume” extracted. These Contracts are currently top secret and citizens are deprived of the ability to compare what Royalty value we are paid compared to the developed more transparent world. Prime Ministers should not go begging with cap in hand for more royalties after the wealth has been exported.
3. Shut down the illegal quarry sector. Eighty percent (80%) of our registered quarry companies are operating illegally with expired licenses and should also be shut down until licenses are duly granted; immediately collect the outstanding 196M ($196,432,478.00) “self-declared” Royalties owed by the Quarry Sector and remove Minister Fitzgerald Hinds from office due to his conflict of interest in being a lifetime member of that Association.
4. Bring legislation to regulate and even prosecute “special purpose” state companies that are designed to bypass the checks and balances of the legislated public procurement tendering process. The Prime Minister must address these vulgar jaw-dropping cost overruns and inflated goods and services that vandalize the public purse. For example UDeCott is reported to have changed the roof of the President’s house for $89M.
5. Maintain existing road, drainage and port infrastructure that have become painfully dilapidated rather than increase the national debt by borrowing billions more from the Chinese Government to build new infrastructure. Host open, transparent public consultation on the national economy, and on any infrastructural project which requires loan funding, especially since our collapsing economy may not be advised to accumulate more national debt.
6. Consult the Nation by instituting a national referendum instead of bullying the voiceless with another multi-billion-dollar loan for a duplicated ferry terminal in the pristine turtle nesting, potential eco-tourism destination in the difficult to access, remote town of Toco;
7. Examine the impact of toxic leachate from the Beetham Estate and enforce existing legislation to prevent the daily burning of rubber which blows into the asthmatic lungs of south Port of Spain.
8. Recognize the invaluable commercial value of protected areas such as the soon to be destroyed Aripo Savannas, an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) with rare, threatened, endangered, endemic and Environmentally Sensitive Species (ESS) and where a highway is currently fragmenting and opening it up to land grabbers and poachers;
9. Make public why nothing has been done to stop the daily land grabbing by land thieves in “protected” Environmentally Sensitive Areas such as the north, east and western boundaries of the Aripo Savanna’s.
10. Ensure that Minister Stuart Young make public why, after claiming that coastal radars were functional, then why the mass murderers of the seven Orange Valley fishers were never intercepted nor have any of the vessels been recovered.
11. Ensure that Minister Stuart Young make public why the fourteen (14) Coast Guard interceptor vessels promised to be repaired since November 7th, 2018 “in the shortest possible time” are still in a state of disrepair.
12. Explain why pending legislation has been allowed to gather dust including the Beverage Containers Bill, Fisheries Management Bill and Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (TTEITI) Bills.
13. Explain why Prime Minister Rowley has not signed the United Nations Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation, and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Escazu) which promotes democracy and transparency and protects environmental activists.
14. Make public the local study on Mercury contamination of East Coast fish conducted by the Biodiversity Research Institute and dated Oct 6th 2017, and come clean on cancercausing hydrocarbon contamination of Gulf of Paria fish as published in the internationally recognized Journal of Science of the Total Environment in 2019.
15. Command the EMA to make mandatory Environmental Impact Assessments(EIAs) for every seismic survey as internationally recognized, published, peer reviewed studies have now confirmed that seismic survey explosions destroy the lower food chain zooplankton which impacts the fishery, including environmentally sensitive marine turtles and therefore should require Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs).
16. Review Water and Sewage Authority WASA expenditure and invest the Green Fund to finance rain and river water collection/retention facilities to stop the estimated 500MTTD desalination drain on the public purse. FFOS will continue to stand guard to protect the future of our children.
Sincerely, Terrance Beddoe