In the House of Representatives yesterday, Roberts raised questions about a lack of accountability at SPORTT, ranging from huge costs of rented SUVs to favouritism in the recruitment of interns, as well as the $2 million Legacy Flag at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Roberts said there was no tendering process for contracts, describing the tendering committee as a ghost committee. Most notable among the projects was the approval for $55 million to stage the Caribbean Games which never came off.
He said there was also a clear preference in the choice of a local company to construct the Legacy Flag and exposed the measurement of the flag-pole-base, saying an overestimated 200 cubic metres was approved when the figures stated clearly the base had been estimated at 30 cubic metres.
Charles and Millien, in response, denied Roberts’ claims and said American firm Prabha Sports was not favoured for the job to construct the flag because of a request for 100 percent payment in US dollars before the start of work on the flag pole. This amounted to US$140,000. The cost of shipping at US$4,000 brought Prabha’s total to US$144,000 or TT$907,000.
An invoice was sent to SPORTT, which Charles and Millien said they turned down. They are claiming also that Prabha’s core line of business had been clothes and therefore the board found it difficult to hand over the US$140,000 which would have covered the flag pole only.
They also dismissed claims there was no tendering committee, saying one was implemented in May 2008 and was headed by chairperson, attorney Elena Araujo.
They are now questioning who are the ones making decisions on the coming sport camps if there is no tendering committee. The camps, it is understood, are supposed to begin next Tuesday.
Concerning the Caribbean Games which was scheduled for July 2009, Charles revealed there were some major projects that did not require the tendering process but were rather handled by the board. He is calling on Roberts to check the minutes of the board on all decisions taken without the use of the tendering process.
He pointed out that four SUVs were rented by the board for managers and engineers to conduct on-the-field inspections of projects. He said managers and engineers had been making key decisions on multi-million dollar contracts without inspections because they had no transport to go to sites.
“We realised that because there was a need for managers and engineers to be on the field at all times for key decisions on major contracts, there was need to provide transport which the managers did not have,” Charles said.
He also denied accusations of favouritism in the recruitment of interns, saying a consultant currently at the Sports Ministry had been entrusted with the responsibility of recruitment and should be questioned.