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NEWS RELEASE
1/7/02
 
BAKSH CALLS FOR NIPDEC TO EXPLAIN PIARCO PROBLEM
Claims Government Wants to Disqualify Contractor From Tobago Project
 
Former Minister of Works and Member of Parliament for San Fernando West, Sadiq Baksh, has called on the National Insurance Property Development Company (NIPDEC) to verify that the materials used in the exterior of the building is a reinforced, water- and alkali-resistant product known as “Dens-glass Sheathing” manufactured by the Georgia Pacific Corporation.  He believes that NIPDEC, as the State agency responsible for managing and monitoring the Airport Project, should respond to claims made by Burke-Hillman, the project consultants, in a letter dated June 21, 2002, to Mr. Kenneth Crichlow of NIPDEC, that wind-driven rain water alone could not have caused the problem.
 
According to Mr. Baksh, “I was reluctant to say anything.  However, in the interests of justice and fair play, and to put the matter to rest, NIPDEC has to say what the real problem is.  Here we have competing claims.  One group talks about “tiles” and “gypsum” and the experts argue that the product was weather- and water-proof, and the circumstances in which the alleged damage took place cannot be blamed only on natural forces.”
 
Asked why would such a claim be made if it were not true, Mr. Baksh said, “I believe it goes back to my concerns about the visit to this country of the top officials of the Inter American Development Bank.  There is a situation in Guyana now where a multinational Telecommunications company has got the IDB to withhold approval of a loan unless the company gets the favourable concessions it wants from the Government.  I can provide proof that the IDB Office in Trinidad and the representative here interfered in our internal affairs and sought to sabotage Project HOME when we initiated it. I am convinced this is a ploy to prevent Northern Construction from getting the Scarborough Hospital project even though it is the lowest bidder and pre-qualified under the IDB guidelines.”
 
Mr. Baksh questioned the process now being used to finalise the contractor for the Tobago project.  He said, “I call on the IDB to make sure the project is transparent and to withhold their non-objection if there is any hint of impropriety on the part of the PNM.  I feel they have a plan to penalise Northern Construction through claims that they did not perform on the Piarco Project.  I think the PNM has silenced NIPDEC because it is a State Enterprise.  However, if there is anything wrong at the Airport, NIPDEC and not the contractors are to blame.  NIPDEC is the Project Manager and signed off on the project.”
 
The former Works Minister also disclosed that he was continuing to pursue his call for an investigation into the IDB operations in Trinidad and Tobago.  “How come,” he asked, “that the housing loan was not approved last year because of the state of uncertainty in the country, and it is approved this year when the uncertainty is even greater and an election is inevitable?  How come a selected government is favoured and an elected government is squeezed by the IDB?”