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Port of Port-of-Spain 1

SHARLENE RAMPERSAD

Public Administration Minister Allyson West says a Government-appointed committee has made recommendations to the Parliament on the options to privatise the Port of Port-of-Spain.

Speaking at a Ministry of Works and Transport press conference yesterday, West said the Government will reveal its decision regarding the port in about a month’s time.

“We prepared a report with our recommendations which have been submitted to Cabinet. Cabinet is looking at those recommendations to determine what is the best option, the objective being always to improve the efficiency of the port so that business can operate better, easier, more cheaply and more effectively – that is the operation,” West said.

“At no time did the Government indicate or intend to dispose of the land on which the port sits.”

West’s comments come four days after Fisherman and Friends of the Sea’s Gary Aboud posted a video on social media claiming the land the port sits on was being put up for sale.

Yesterday, West chalked Aboud’s statements up to misinformation.

In early November 2020, West said the committee comprised four ministers – herself, Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon and Finance Minister Colm Imbert. It also included officials from the Ministry of Works, Port Authority, Seamen and Waterfront Workers’ Trade Union, Shipping Association of T&T, Manufacturers’ Association and the Chamber of Industry and Commerce. At that time, West said the committee had met several times and promised it would submit a report to Parliament in two weeks’ time.

Yesterday, she said the Cabinet sub-committee, the Finance and General Purposes Committee, looked at the report last Monday.

“They wanted us to do some further work and build out what we anticipate will be an RFP (Request for Proposal) issued to the public, so they gave us a month to do that but we are trying to come back to them before the deadline expires. Within the next month or so, we should have made a decision and we will come back to the public and indicate where we are in terms of that process.”

In his 2020/2021 Budget presentation, Finance Minister Imbert announced Government’s plan to privatise the port, saying public ports around the world have been moving away from the ‘service’ port model’ and to the landlord model. He said the Government’s adoption of this model will allow it to retain regulatory and asset management functions with managerial, operational and financial responsibility for commercial activities placed on a private investor.