Commission of inquiry to probe Udecott

By Sean Douglas
Saturday, May 24 2008
newsday.co.tt

Patrick ManningPRIME Minister Patrick Manning yesterday agreed to set up a commission on inquiry into the controversial Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott) and the practices of the construction industry, in place of the joint select committee (JSC) he had previously proposed.

The four-man body will be headed by former Integrity Commission chairman, Gordon Deane.

Manning’s bombshell came in the House of Representatives as he spoke on a motion proposing the JSC at about 7.15 pm at the end of his 75-minute speech. The Opposition, local contractors and business groups have said a commission could better probe witnesses than a JSC.

Recalling his original view when he had proposed a JSC that no specific complaint existed against Udecott to justify a commission, Manning said a specific complaint was now being made for the first time, a likely reference to Opposition Chief Whip Ramesh Maharaj’s allegation that a firm owned by in-laws of Udecott Calder Hart had been hurriedly set up and awarded a construction contract by Udecott.

“Even though we believe that the joint select committee approach is the superior approach, we have decided in the face of the position taken by the Opposition and the possibility that the Independent Senators may not wish to participate in the joint select committee, we have decided in those circumstances to go the route of the commission of inquiry.”

Manning’s concession came after he had just spent about 70 minutes defending Udecott, lambasting local contractors, and quoting Independent and Opposition Senators praising the virtues of a JSC.

Earlier Attorney-General Bridgid Annisette-George also made the case for the JSC saying it would allow citizens to “participate” through their elected MPs, while noting the penalty imposed for non-attendance at a hearing under the Commission of Inquiry Act was a mere $2,000.

Manning said the commission’s investigations would include procurement practices in the public construction sector; the performance of local and foreign contractors and consultants; the effectiveness of the design-build approach versus the design- and-tender approach; the reasons for and effects of cost-overruns, delays and defective workmanship in public projects; and the procurement practices and methods of operation of Udecott.

http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,79515.html

3 Responses to “Commission of inquiry to probe Udecott”


  • This is just another circus that is being paid for with tax-payers money. Mr Manning is a runaway train that should be derailed in the next general election.

  • HE’S BIASED

    Rowley, Ramesh slam Deane’s pick as head of UDeCOTT enquiry

    Ria Taitt Political Editor
    Sunday, May 25th 2008

    Gordon Deane must disqualify himself. He cannot be chairman of the Commission of Enquiry to probe UDeCOTT. And both he and the Prime Minister know that.

    This was the position taken by former Minister and Diego Martin West MP, Dr Keith Rowley yesterday as he intensified his criticisms of the appointment of the former Integrity Commission chairman as Chairman of the Commission of Enquiry, citing his record.

    Deane was the chairman of the Integrity Commission when it began investigating allegations against Rowley. He was chairman when the Rowley file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions before he (Rowley) had a chance to be heard. The court later ruled that the Integrity Commission breached Rowley’s fundamental right to be heard. By this time the chairmanship of the Integrity Commission has passed on to John Martin, the former deputy chairman.
    Full Article : trinidadexpress.com

    Ramesh threatens court action over probe chairman

    Manning: Opposition wants to slow us down
    PRIME Minister Patrick Manning yesterday criticised the United National Congress (UNC) for calling for the removal of Gordon Deane as head of the Commission of Enquiry into the affairs of the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT) as he declared that the UNC “wanted to run the government from the Opposition. They want to slow us down.”

    PM: Call for probe hinders progress
    PRIME Minister Patrick Manning says the call for the commission of enquiry into Udecott is a way of slowing down development of country status by the year 2020…

    Testing independence
    Two weeks ago I stated elsewhere that the Independent Senators would commit credibility suicide if they agreed to participate in the Joint Select Committee (JSC) proposed by the Prime Minister to investigate the affairs of UDecott. I was concerned then that the Independent Senators were being lured to drink from a poisoned cup.

    Buying time – invoking Plan B
    A Joint Select Committee (JSC) probe into the practices of UDeCOTT was simply not going to work for the simple reason that a JSC, given our political culture, was hardly likely to be able to produce a unanimous report.

    Ramesh’s finest hour
    But it was the Prime Minister who delivered the coup de grace to both Mr Imbert and the Attorney General, who lamely defended the JSC. Both looked like idiots when Mr Manning made out that that day, for the first time, there had been an allegation against UDecott that warranted a commission of inquiry, so there would be a commission after all and not a JSC. He also said it would be headed by Gordon Deane, former chairman of the Integrity Commission-which he could hardly have done without getting Mr Deane’s consent in advance. So much for Mr Manning’s pretence that Mr Maharaj’s accusations that same afternoon had changed his mind.

  • DEANE DUCKS OUT
    Search on for new UDeCOTT investigator

    Gordon Deane, the man chosen by the Patrick Manning Cabinet to serve as chairman of the Commission of Enquiry into UDeCOTT and the practices of the construction sector, has turned down the appointment.

    Threats force Deane to withdraw
    Threats have been made to Gordon Deane prompting him to withdraw as chairman of the commission of inquiry appointed to probe the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (Udecott) and the construction industry.

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