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Saturday 8 August, 2020

No gang links, CEPEP Chairman says

CEPEP Chairman Ashton Ford, via Facebook, Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago.

CEPEP Chairman Ashton Ford, via Facebook, Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago.

Chairman of the Com­mu­ni­ty-Based En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion and En­hance­ment Pro­gramme (CEPEP) Ashton Ford has denied that the state enterprise has awarded contracts to gang leaders.

While he said he was not aware that CEPEP is en­gaged with con­trac­tors to do any­thing un­law­ful, he assured that the company’s gen­er­al man­ag­er and su­per­vi­sors are not involved in any ac­tiv­i­ty “like that”.

He made the comments in response to questions posed to him as he appeared before the Joint Select Committee on State Enterprises on Monday.

But, Ford said if a contract is awarded to a con­trac­tor and some­one in his com­pa­ny is in­volved in illegal ac­tiv­i­ties, CEPEP cannot be held responsible.

“I am not aware that when we the committee is evaluating tenders by contractors that anyone is identified as gang leaders. I am not aware of that at all.”

“I am not aware that CEPEP is engaging with contractors who are doing anything unlawful. I am aware of that.”

“We are not involved, neither the General Manager nor our supervisors are involved in any illegal activity like that. If a contractor is awarded and somebody in his company is involved in [illegal] activities we are not responsible for that either.”

Ford said as a matter of policy contracts are not given based on any criminal activity.

The company currently has employed 266 contractors, all hired after 2018 when contracts granted in August 2015 would have come to an end.

Meanwhile, JSC member Wade Mark recommended an independent forensic report into the company and its failure to provide accounts for 2015 to 2018, following a loss of data due to a server failure.

Mark proposed that the matter be referred to the Auditor General to conduct and “independent forensic special audit” on CEPEP, which Committee Chairman Anthony Vieira said he would consider pursuing.

CEPEP Chairman Ashton Ford said he welcomed any investigation into the state enterprise.

CEPEP General Manager Keith Eddy said several protective systems have been put in place following the server failure to ensure there is not a repeat of the data loss incident.

Eddy also gave an update on an inherited debt of outstanding payments to contractors, amounting to roughly $32 million.

He indicated that CEPEP has written to the line Ministry seeking to obtain funds to clear this debt.

The CEPEP General Manager said the company is dealing with 14 high court matters.

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