Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has pulled the brakes on two contracts worth an estimated $83 million that was approved by the Airports Authority (AA) without a state board in place. The directive, Sunday Guardian understands, was handed down in an emergency meeting held at the Prime Minister's San Fernando home yesterday. Absent from the meeting, which was attended by a few Cabinet members, was Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner. The Prime Minister, sources told Sunday Guardian, has also requested a complete review of the project and the terms and conditions under which the contracts were awarded to Harry Persad and Sons Ltd of St Helena and San Rafael, United Engineering Service Ltd, with offices in Point Lisas and Tacarigua.
A party source revealed: "With immediate effect the Prime Minister has placed a halt on the project. She has ordered a complete review of the contract because at the time it was awarded no board was in place to approve the project. The Prime Minister wants to ensure that the contract could stand up to scrutiny so she has requested a complete review. Until this is done the project has been halted." Approval for the $47,785,768.92 contract for the upgrade of the Airfield Lighting and Control and Monitoring System at the Piarco International Airport was awarded to Harry Persad and Sons Ltd on September 20. United Engineering received the $35,402,400.62 contract for the upgrade of the Airfield Lighting Control and Monitoring System at the Crown Point International Airport on the same.
In a release last night, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar stated: "This matter was previously brought to the attention of the Prime Minister, who had then instructed that should such a contract be awarded in the absence of accountability and transparency, the same should be voided. "In light of the allegations now in the public domain, for the avoidance of doubt and in the interests of transparency and accountability, the Prime Minister has concluded that the award of this contract must be reviewed with a view to rescission of same."