A Response to Minister Sinanan
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) thank the Minister of Works and Transport for his response to our social media video “Our country is being sold secretly”, dated 12th March 2021 .
FFOS appreciate Minister Sinanan’s clarifications but remind him that FFOS never opposed “infrastructural development” but have always advocated for transparency in the sale of State assets and the use of public funds for procurement.
FFOS have advocated for the efficiency and accountability of State Agencies including the Port Authority which controls the Port of Port of Spain and the ‘sustainable development of land, including Invader’s Bay. The public have entrusted our Governments to make honest decisions in our country’s best interest but over and over we have been betrayed and lied to since independence, 59 years ago.
FFOS main concern, as outlined in the video is that our Government appears to be attempting to sell public assets including Invaders Bay and the Port of Port of Spain in the midst of an intentionally weakened Procurement Legislation; a concern which PM Rowley is disregarding.
Minister Sinanan notes our objection to the Cumuto to Manzanilla Extension of the Churchill Roosevelt Highway and the Sandals Resort in Tobago as evidence of FFOS “not taking Infrastructural Development seriously.” On the contrary, the highway project is being built against technical advice received by the Environment Management Authority (EMA) on the southern boundary of the internationally renowned Environmentally Sensitive Area – the Aripo Savannas. Today, having bulldozed hundreds of acres of the Long Stretch Forest Reserve to facilitate the Highway’s construction, our Government has left the project languishing without constructing the necessary connecting roads, leaving an unusable 400-Million-dollar highway from ‘nowhere to nowhere’ in the forest.
Secondly, Tobago’s most valuable asset has been spared. The Sandals resort would have destroyed our Buccoo Reef. Minister Sinanan must take note that times have changed and that no Government will be permitted by an informed civil society to pursue infrastructural development at the expense of our vulnerable, voiceless or critically important natural ecosystems.
If the Rowley Government believes that the amendments made to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Property Act (2015) do not have any bearing on the Office of the Procurement Regulator’s (OPR’s) function and that the OPR has not been neutered, then FFOS invite our Government to publicly respond to the serious concerns raised by numerous independent third parties including the OPR themselves, the Joint Chambers (which comprise of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, AmCham T&T, T&T Coalition of Services Industries (TTSCI) and the TT Manufactures Association (TTMA) ), the Law Association, the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute, (TTTI) the Joint Consultative Association (JCC) and activist Afra Raymond regarding the railroaded Procurement legislation. All of these credible institutions appear to have a similar objective as FFOS to ensure that all Governments, present and future, are held accountable for the squandering of our Nation’s beleaguered Treasury.
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea