State Owned Hotels

I am questioning the role of our responsible elites in light of Dr Terrence Farrell’s ‘Where do we go from here‘ speech to the Queen’s Park Cricket Club on 22 November 2019.  Dr Farrell also chaired a THA-appointed Committee to recommend a Medium-Term Policy and Planning Framework for Tobago. Those proposals were made on 12 November 2019 and included three new all-inclusive hotels for Tobago adding about 1,800 new rooms.

Read full article Property Matters – State owned hotels  on Afra Raymond’s Website

Freedom of Information Underpins Strong Democracy II

Citizen Advocate Afra Raymond continues to prosecute the important FoIA – David, Blogmaster

“…3. (1) The object of this Act is to extend the right of members of the public to access to information in the possession of public authorities…”
—Objects statement in FoIA

“…Because outside of national security matters and matters of the Cabinet…there are few other matters on the government files, that should really be secret…”
—PM Dr Keith Rowley at the post-Cabinet press briefing on 23 May 2019.

The objects statement in the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) and the PM’s statement, with which I entirely agree, are both cause for a pause in this haste to dilute citizens’ rights in this arena. The previous article was submitted before the proposed amendments were released, so this one starts with some important background to set the current imbroglio in context.

PNM’s founder Dr Eric Williams’ epic and imperishable work took him through an absolute forest of official information to recalculate our bearings and history so that we could understand our contribution and our place in the world. Today’s PNM would not have existed without the tremendous efforts of patriots of Dr Williams’ stature, but at the same time, today’s PNM finds itself deeply opposed to the very concept of Freedom of Information. Present-day researchers here in T&T have a very hard time getting official documents to prepare a critical study on anything which is official policy or practice.

Here is another citation in support of that assertion –

As Dr Terrence Farrell recounted, in ‘The Underachieving Society‘ (2012), in relation to the Vision 2020 exercise –
“…certain key persons involved in the implementation of policy initiatives elected not to participate. Calder Hart, chairman of UDECOTT,…did not participate. Ken Julien, president of the University of Trinidad & Tobago, and Noel Garcia, head of the Housing Development Corporation, key agencies in the implementation of government policy, also were not part of the Vision 2020 exercise…” (pg 203)

Full Text:

Freedom of Information shifts part two

Afra Raymond Speaks- The Show Tell Hotel

Tax transparency is the series of laws or rules to require businesses or people to disclose their income earned and taxes paid.

What re-ignited my interest in this was the recent Daily Mail article on the Florida lawsuit against Sandals Resorts International (SRI) by a former guest on allegations of tax fraud. The allegation is that the 12% accommodation tax charged to guests at Beaches in the Turks & Caicos Islands was not all remitted to the government, with a significant percentage of those monies kept by SRI (owners of Beaches).

SRI has denied those allegations and will be fighting the case strongly, but I wondered – just how did that guest get enough information to decide to file this lawsuit? Recently in the TCI there has been serious political fallout arising from certain secret tax and duty concessions to SRI now being published, which once again shows just how imperative it is to have transparency. Without those secret deals having been disclosed, how would that person know they were being charged in the incorrect and dishonest way as alleged in their lawsuit?

Full text @Afra Raymond website.

Tobago Sandals Roles

Afra Raymond continues the advocacy struggle on behalf of the people – Blogmaster

This article will delve into the roles of the various officials and public Institutions who are responsible for this Tobago Sandals MoU.

Information Approach

This process followed the familiar pattern of information management, in which the ‘Underlying Commercial Arrangements’ are intentionally obscured, while other details are selectively provided.

That MoU also contains a confidentiality clause which only permits any disclosure with the agreement of the other party. The parties promised each other to keep those important secrets safe.

Read full article – Property Matters – Tobago Sandals Roles

CL Financial Bailout – filling the gaps, Part II

clf-bailout2This article provides more details of the games being played in this Information War. It seems that the concealment of the details of the CL Financial bailout is of high importance.

First item is this acknowledgment from the PS in the Ministry of Finance which would be funny, if this entire matter were not so very serious – Read full article at

Sandals MoU?

Social advocate Afra Raymond continues his work by calling for transparency with the agreement between Sandals and the Trinidad and Tobago government. The Butch Stewart company also featured in the Barbados newsfeed this week when newly elected Prime Minister Mia Mottley signaled that she will be meeting with Stewart soon to discuss  the expectation of her government.

-David – Barbados Underground

This is a continuation of my 8 March 2018 article on the Sandals MoU. That MoU was declared as no secret by our PM to the Parliament on 12 October 2017 and that was confirmed by the then CEO of the Sandals group, Adam Stewart, as reported on 27 February 2018 in the T&T press.

My 27 February 2018 request for that MoU under the Freedom of Information Act (embedded below) was therefore made against that background of both parties’ declaration that there was no secret. The Office of the Prime Minister responded on 22 March 2018 to refuse my request, citing that the MoU contained a confidentiality clause which prevented its disclosure at this time. I have since written to the OPM to request a reply in conformity with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act – I am still awaiting a reply to that letter.

I have now written to Mr Adam Stewart of Sandals Resorts International to request from him a copy of the MoU. (See below)

Read full Afra Rayon article – Sandals MOU

Afra Raymond Gets CLICO Data – A Case of FOI Working?

The incumbent Barbados DLP government promised to introduce Freedom of Information ( FOI) in 2008, it is 2018 and clearly this will be an undeliverable ten years later.

The CLICO debacle which has affected several Caribbean countries continues to reverberate. The catastrophic event has changed (should) how pan-Caribbean companies are managed. Are we satisfied that learnings gleaned in the post-CLICO collapse are being documented and changes made to processes and regulations to mitigate against a recurrence?

David, Blogmaster

LAST week, nearly six years after he first requested the data under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Ministry of Finance sent Afra Raymond a compact disc with information on all individuals and institutions who received payments from the State for their investments in CLICO, the insurance company that collapsed in January 2009. The matter went to the Court of Appeal before the parties agreed on an out-of-court settlement with the ministry agreeing to most of Raymond’s demands.

For Raymond, an Express Business columnist, property expert and transparency campaigner, it has been a long but ultimately rewarding road, which began with the May 8, 2012 filing with the ministry. As to cost, he will receive 70 per cent of the cost of the litigation in the High Court.

He answers questions on the issue below:

Read full text HERE

Cautionary Tale for Barbados – How the MASSY|TSTT Merger Affects Us

Afra Raymond Citizen Advocate

The following blog by Afra Raymond is instructive for Barbadians because Trinidad and Tobago has implemented transparency legislation. Based on the many critiques by Afra of the integrity and transparency variety that have occurred in the T&T space, clearly the legislation has not efficiently served to deliver on the intent and the benefit to a society to hold public and private officials accountable.

What can we learn from the T&T experience so far?

TSTT’s share purchase agreement, announced on 2 May 2017, to buy Massy Communications Ltd has provoked a great deal of sceptical or negative public comment. I will not attempt a critique of that deal since it is well beyond my scope: in any case, the basic details have not been disclosed. We have been told that the price is $255M and that the deal is conditional upon the approval of the Telecommunications Authority of T&T (TATT).

Read the full text of Afra Raymond’s blog – How the Massy – TSTT Merger Affects Us

Regional News: Digicel to Send Home Hundreds of Employees

Afra Raymond Citizen Advocate

Afra Raymond Citizen Advocate

Digicel preparing to fire several hundred employees globally

Digicel – a major player in the mobile, broadband and tv market across several Caribbean countries – is preparing to fire several hundred employees over the next 18 months. A new org structure will see regional hubs  – two for the Caribbean and Central America and two for the Pacific region – providing back office functions and delivering shared services.

Read full textDigicel preparing to fire several hundred employees globally

CEMEX reports tenfold increase in 2016 net income

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Despite net income skyrocketing from 75m USD in 2015 to 750m USD in 2016 – CEMEX, the Mexican multinational heavy-weight saw a decrease in its numbers across certain geographical markets including South, Central America and the Caribbean:

Read full textCEMEX reports tenfold increase in 2016 net income

The Secret Society

Our Secret Society is a Terrible Truth for us in the Republic of T&T…who is holding secrets for who and what can we do? (Recorded on Saturday, 1 October 2016) Programme Date: 20 February 2017 Programme Length: 11:46

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Property Matters – State Housing Facts

by AfraRaymond

hdcThis is a continuation of my examination of the National Housing Policy (2002), its implementation and the associated implications. Over the last year I engaged with HDC’s management who cooperated with me, much like the previous team. I asked about new homes produced by the National Housing Authority (NHA) and the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) […]

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Property Matters – Tax Facts (2)

by AfraRaymond

property-taxFurther details on property tax are needed to understand the process and possibilities arising from its implementation. The 2010 estimate of revenue from that tax was $325M, as against a 2017 estimate of $503M, so it seems that there has been some allowance for inflation and new properties. The innate effectiveness of this tax is […]

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Invaders’ Bay – Appeal Court Ruling

Afra Raymond Citizen Advocate

Afra Raymond Citizen Advocate

Today the Appeal Court delivered its majority ruling upholding the decision of Justice Frank Seepersad on 14th July 2014 to order publication of the legal opinions on which the Ministry had been relying.

This case began in 2013, when the JCC sought a judicial review of the refusal of the Ministry of Planning & Sustainable Development to publish legal opinions which the Ministry claimed supported its Request for Proposals (RFP) process in the proposed development of Invaders’ Bay. The JCC contended that the RFP process was being conducted in breach of the Central Tenders Board Act, but the Ministry claimed to have legal advice that its actions conformed to the CTB Act. It was that advice which the Ministry refused to publish. […]

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Property Matters – Pay Day?

by AfraRaymond

The JCC has become dormant by today’s standards, with only two items posted to its website for 2016. I was therefore very interested in their 27th July Press Conference to protest the high levels of State debt to its members. At a time of apparent crisis for the construction industry, one would think that the […]

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Minister of Finance and the Economy vs. Afra Raymond – Keith Rowley Protecting Persad-Bissessar and CL Financial Group

Afra Raymond Citizen Advocate

Afra Raymond Citizen Advocate

BU’s read of the following is simple, the political class is the same everywhere, they are wont to protect their own. What is interesting in this case is that transparency laws are on the statute books in Trinidad and Tobago. Why would the recently installed Rowley PNM government not want to be transparent about how public funds used to bailout CL Financial are accounted for?  The following is a note shared by the Indefatigable public advocate Afra Raymond.  We continue to wish him well.

The Ministry of Finance & the Economy has today formally advised the Appeal Court of its intention to proceed with their appeal against the High Court ruling of 22nd July 2015 which ordered publication of the requested details of the CL Financial bailout –

  1. the audited accounts of the CL Financial group;
  2. the formal presentation to the Independent Senators in September 2011 on the bailout and;
  3. the details of the payees – i.e. the names of those who received payments.

This is an unprecedented and huge expenditure of Public Money exceeding $20 Billion, yet it seems that we remain bound by the detrimental ‘Code of Silence‘ in our country.  Having had the Ten Commandments drummed into us as youths, it now appears that the Eleventh Commandment is to be part of our adult learning – ‘Thou shalt not be found out‘.

This matter will be expedited and I will continue my efforts to obtain all the details of all the payments in this huge expenditure of Public Money.

Afra Raymond’s Trinidad and Tobago Post Budget Analysis

sky995fmAfra Raymond, as JCC president, is interviewed on the ‘The Breakfast Round Table‘ show on Sky 99.5 FM by Eddisson Carr and Jessie May Ventour giving a post-budget analysis from his perspective. 7 October 2015. Audio courtesy Sky 99.5 FM.

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