PetroCaribe risk assessment aborted

Thursday, June 05, 2014

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OPPOSITION Spokesman on Finance and Planning Audley Shaw vowed yesterday to press the Government for more information on the aborted risk assessment of the PetroCaribe Development Fund (PDF).

The Opposition expressed concern after Minister of Finance and Planning Dr Peter Phillips' acknowledgement that the abortion of the risk assessment was triggered by doubts about the qualifications of the consultant recruited to do the job.

"The risk assessment was aborted due to concerns regarding the bona fides of the consultant and possible copyright infringements," Dr Phillips told the House.

He said that the matter has been referred to the Attorney General's Department for a legal opinion as to the means of protecting the interest of the PDF, and the fund.

However, Phillips refused to give any further details on the issue when pressured by Shaw to do so. He said that the advice of the AG was necessary on whether or not more details should be made public and, if so, when.

Shaw said he was not satisfied with the response of the minister and warned that he would follow up the issue until the public is fully informed about the details.

He pointed out that the PDF involved some US$3 billion and it was questionable how the procurement procedure was conducted, which produced a consultant with such questionable bona fides that the assessment had to be aborted.

Shaw said that it was not even clear whether the consultant's bona fides were not being questioned by the board because its members disagreed with the conclusions. However, Phillips criticised Shaw for imputing motives and described his suggestion as irresponsible and in breach of the Standing Orders.

Shaw, however, denied that he was imputing motive, suggesting instead that his conclusions were drawn from the "cryptic nature" of Phillips' responses to his questions.

Phillips said that the responses to Shaw's questions were not compiled by the PDF board and what was important was that the fund has remained in "sound financial health".

Former finance minister Dr Omar Davies suggested that in light of the sensitivity of the matter, the two MPs meet privately to discuss the issues.

— Balford Henry




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