‘No vessel deal yet’
Stories by Sasha Harrinanan in Beijing, China Friday, February 28 2014
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PROFESSOR KAMLA: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar receives her Honorary Professorship of the China Agricultural University (CAU) from CAU Preside...
PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday said the purchase from China of a Long Range Vessel (LRV) to patrol this country’s maritime waters, is in no way a done deal.
She made this clear to Newsday after touring the University of Fudan Children’s Hospital in Shanghai, which was built by the Shanghai Construction Group — the same group which is overseeing construction of the Couva Children’s Hospital.
“Financing arrangements will now have to be worked out. It is not a ‘sign on the dotted line’ scenario. We will of course be looking for competitive advantages and will not buy a defective vessel,” the Prime Minister said as she fielded questions from reporters on the LRV deal.
Asked why the need to purchase a LRV from China, when her government cancelled the billion- dollar Off-Shore Patrol Vessel (OPV) deal with BAE, which was inked by the previous PNM administration, Persad-Bissessar said there could be no comparison between the LRV and the OPVs.
She said the cost of the LRV was one-third that of the OPVs and added that the LRV the Chinese government is willing to sell to TT, is already built and seaworthy as opposed to the OPV deal which was mired in lengthy delays and cost overruns.
The Prime Minister said if the LRV deal is to go through, the Government will first ensure TT gets value for the money it will spend to purchase the LRV by way of having a local technical team tour the LRV to assess its capabilities and ensure it will be an asset to TT’s maritime patrol fleet.
On her tour of the University of Fudan Children’s Hospital, Persad-Bissesar said she was impressed with what she had seen but added that the Couva Children’s Hospital would be even more impressive than Fudan, based on the construction plans drawn up for construction.
“I am quite happy with what I have seen on this tour. But I can say that ours (the Couva Children’s Hospital) will be far more advanced than this one based on the designs,” Persad- Bissessar said. She added that about 100 medical personnel will be deployed from China to TT following discussions with the Chinese government. Also yesterday, she held a business meeting with several Chinese businessmen. Persad-Bissessar said the State visit to China — the first by a TT Prime Minister in over 30 years — at which she formally opened the TT Embassy in Beijing, was a most successful trip. The Prime Minister is expected to return home over the weekend.