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Why were supplies ordered from Tankweld Ltd? – Eustace

Why were supplies ordered from Tankweld Ltd? – Eustace

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Why should the Government of St VIncent and the Grenadines be sourcing building materials from a Jamaican firm instead of from local businesses?

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, while speaking on the New Times radio programme yesterday, asked this {{more}}question and expressed his disappointment that the building supplies recently ordered by the Government came from Tankweld Ltd, a Jamaican company, instead of from local suppliers.

He also questioned who receives the commission on goods that are ordered from Tankweld and called on the Government to answer his questions.

“Why should a Jamaican business, one single business get millions of dollars in purchases from the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines?” he said. “I think it is wrong that we should buy all the materials from a single firm in Jamaica, when the private sector in St Vincent and the Grenadines is in a poor condition, laying off staff very often.”

Claiming that some of the building materials will be given away for political reasons, Eustace said some of the money could have been used to boost this country’s economy by supporting the private sector.

According to Eustace, about $11 million has been approved to bring in materials from Tankweld for several government programmes.

However, at a press conference last week, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said only $4.5 million had been allocated for the building supplies ordered from Tankweld.

During yesterday’s radio programme, the Opposition Leader read from two Cabinet memos, one of which stated that an order of $4.5 million worth of building supplies from Tankweld had been approved.

Eustace said the memos were written by the Cabinet Secretary after a Cabinet meeting held on June 24, 2015.

In one memo, the Cabinet Secretary informed the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Housing that Cabinet had granted approval for a loan of $350,000 from PetroCaribe, with an interest rate of two per cent per annum. According to the Cabinet memo, the funds were being procured for the purpose of supporting the Lives to Live programme.

The second memo, also addressed to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Housing, said that the Cabinet had approved an order for $4.5 million worth of building materials from Tankweld to facilitate the low income housing programme, the Lives to Live programme and material assistance for needy individuals and families.

Under the Lives to Live programme, Government is improving the standard of living and quality of life of disabled and elderly persons by building bathrooms, toilets, ramps and other improvements at their homes.

According to the Cabinet memo, the materials were scheduled to arrive at the end of July and payment will be made by PetroCaribe on a monthly basis from January 2016.

Eustace also noted that these memos were copied to the director general of finance and planning, the director of audit and also the accountant general.

Eustace said it is his belief that St Vincent and the Grenadines had been included on a list of countries said to be in a debt crisis because of what is owed to PetroCaribe. He said the country’s indebtedness to PetroCaribe is not included in the Estimates.

“You’re not seeing those figures there in the Estimates when you look at actual debt of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The Prime Minister talking about who confused and who not confused. I know I am not confused and sooner or later he would have to admit what total debt of PetroCaribe is and how it will impact on the debt of St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

In a press conference last week, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said only $4.5 million had been allocated for the building supplies ordered from Tankweld. He said this is the third time that this country is ordering supplies from the country and that he is in the process of negotiating a system of payment for the materials scheduled to arrive in St Vincent at the end of July.

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