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THA can make own deals

Wednesday, January 15 2014

NOTHING prohibits the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) from entering into long-term business arrangements, such as the build, own, lease transfer (BOLT) financing arrangement, Senior Counsel John Jeremie submitted yesterday as the case which seeks to determine the powers of Tobago’s ruling body continued in the Port-of-Spain High Court yesterday.

Jeremie represents the THA in the interpretation application being sought by the Attorney General (AG) to have the court clarify the legal position in relation to the THA’s statutory powers.

The AG is seeking clarification over whether the Assembly’s use of the BOLT mechanism — which was used in the controversial Milshirv project handed to a firm tied to the Rahael family — is legal. They argue that it is not; that the THA must comply, instead, with the Central Tenders Board (CTB) Act and that it must seek the authorisation of the Ministry of Finance before entering into such arrangements, which involve the payment of peppercorn fees and long-term State repayments in exchange for delegation of building projects to private firms. Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh is presiding over the interpretation application.

Jeremie yesterday submitted that the THA Act gave the body the relevant powers to engage in such transactions, adding it also had to power to attract and engage in financing arrangements.

He said there was no evidence the THA did not follow the necessary statutory procedures when it entered into the BOLT arrangement.

Lawyers for the Ministry of the Attorney General last year launched a judicial review in relation to the Milshirv project. However the terms of this legal action were later re-formulated to one which sought the court’s interpretation of the law.

The case continues today.

Alvin Fitzpatrick, SC, Lesley Ann Lucky-Samaroo and Martin George appear for the AG while Stuart Young and Kerwyn Garcia also appear with Jeremie for the THA.

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