Auditor-General queries TIDCO . . .
No accounting from Miss Universe Pageant
Ramlogan got $110,000 a month
Vishnu Ramlogan, when he was president of the Tourism and Industrial Development Company (TIDCO) was paid over $3 million in salary for a period of two years and ten months, broken down to a rate of $75,649 per month in 1999; $110,634 per month in 2000 and $72,239 in 2001).
Four vice-presidents working in specific areas under him were paid much lower figures, causing the Auditor-General to question the criteria and apparent disparity for fixing salaries paid to executives of TIDCO. The total salary compensation for the President and vice-presidents totalled $6.1 million for the two years, ten months period.
A copy of a letter from the Auditor-General to the President of TIDCO dated July 19, 2002, said he could find no procedure by which officers were assessed and examined, and that academic qualifications and experience seemed to have no bearing on arriving at compensation packages for officers.
Also queried by the audit was the disclosure that the audit calculation of annual income of some officers did not tally with that indicated on their TD slips for income tax purposes. These discrepancies arose in gratuity compensation payments.
No signed contract for the employment of Ramlogan was produced for audit examination, but at a meeting of the TIDCO board in November, 2000, the Board approved Ramlogan's proposal to pay performance awards to all staff based on the results of a performance assessment programme.
The president did his own performance evaluation, and the Board accepted that he be afforded a maximum of six weeks salary. On one occasion the president was awarded a bonus of $124,260. The auditor's report noted that no basis for this payment was provided for audit.
The audit-general also requested that it receive a copy of the financial results of the Trinidad and Tobago Pageant Company which staged the Miss Universe competition.
It was noted that it had seen a faxed message from one Ms Jackie Knaggs of CL Financial Ltd concerning the Pageant Company's charity committee paying sums totalling $372,000 to various charities. This was paid from TIDCO's payroll account, but no authority for these payments could be determined.
The Auditor-General also noted that during the period under examination the President of TIDCO (June, 1996, to October, 2001) was also the chairman of First Citizens Bank (January 1997 to March 2002), and that First Citizens Bank was the provider of the bridging finance funds which TIDCO utilised in the conduct of the National Road Enhancement Programme. The Auditor-General's audit also raised questions about the lack of minutes of TIDCO's Tenders Committee which it said was in contravention of Rule 4 (1) of TIDCO's tender rules.
It said contracts for the Saith Park Renaissance Project in the sum of $1.2 million, and for construction of NAMDEVCO Packing House Facility for $1.6 million were approved by the TIDCO Tenders Committee in contravention of the rules. There was no evidence that either contracts was approved or ratified by the TIDCO Board.
"There was also no evidence seen that the Board was notified of the contracts approved within the limits of the Tenders Committee, nor of those awarded by the President within his defined limit of $250,000 for example, the refurbishment of beach facilities at Columbus Bay ($190,236); Salibia ($225,423); Maracas Bay ($177,167); Granville ($98,489).
In cases where contracts were approved by the President, the tender documents did not indicate when these tenders were opened, or the process followed. The report also raised questions about the filing of the tender documents which were lodged in three different places, making retrieval and verification of the contracts difficult.
In some instances, for example, it could not be ascertained who awarded these contracts, and with the absence of a register for entering the contracts for which tenders have been invited there was no means by which the audit could verify the total value of contracts invited/awarded.
The Auditor-General said tender documents for five projects were not produced for audit. These were Debe Recreational Grounds ($449,075); Pitch Lake Visitor Centre ($192,395); Chaguanas Renaissance Park ($247,550); Debe Library and Export Centre ($498,334); Tulsa Trace Picnic Site ($320,677). Also noted was, that the Chief Executive Officer of National Gas Company (1996 to present) was a member of the Board of Directors of TIDCO (1999 to 2001).
During the tenure of the CEO of National Gas as a Director of TIDCO, the President of TIDCO was himself deputy chairman of National Gas Co. The audit also noted that the Minister of Infrastructure Development and Local Government, Carlos John, who was responsible for the administration of the road paving programme was the chairman of TIDCO immediately before taking up the Ministerial appointment.
In his capacity of Chairman of the Board of Directors of TIDCO he was responsible for an increase in the salary of the President by roughly 30 percent.
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