Friday 24 January, 2020

HDC, Chinese company working out agreement after contract cancellation

Government’s cancellation of a US$71.7 million contract between China Gezhouba Group International Engineering Company and the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) will not attract any penalties.

In response to a question during Friday’s sitting of the Parliament, Acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert said both parties are presently engaged in discussions in an effort to arrive at a mutually satisfactory resolution to the contract, and as a result, there are no penalties accruing at this time.

But, in the event that no mutual agreement in the negotiations is reached, Imbert said he was not privy to the details of the contract in this regard.

Questioned further by Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh on whether there was any advanced payment made, Imbert indicated no such payment was made.

Asked whether any due diligence was undertaken by the Office of the Attorney General prior to the signing of the Framework Agreement, which, according to the Opposition was signed in 2018 by then Housing Minister, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, Imbert said the agreement did not require the Attorney General to give an opinion on the contract.

“The Housing Development Corporation is a statutory authority, it is not a state enterprise.

It has its own rules according to statute, and the Housing Development Corporation has the authority to determine its own contractual affairs.”

Pressed further on why framework agreement was reviewed by Cabinet if the HDC is a statutory authority, he said it was a fact that it came before the Cabinet, but the issue of the contract was one for the HDC to manage.

“The question of the detailed contract is for the Housing Development Corporation (HDC), in accordance with the framework agreement,” Imbert concluded.

In May 2019, a formal agreement was signed to construct 5000 apartment units across T&T. However, Government recently scrapped the contract following an extensive review by Cabinet.

The China Gezhouba Group was contracted by the HDC to build 5,000 housing units – with 235 units at Lady Hailes Avenue in San Fernando, and 204 at South Quay in Port of Spain in the first phase of the project.

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