The leased Sikorsky helicopter which was “parked in a shed” in Camp Cumuto for five years must be investigated by Parliament’s National Security Committee after the PNM Government refused to honour the lease on the helicopter, says UNC MP Roodal Moonilal.
Speaking on the issue at last night’s UNC meeting, Moonilal said, “We’ve been reading about the helicopter leased in December 2014 by the People’s Partnership (PP) administration. They (Government) have scandalized and seek to criminalize all associated with this arrangement.”
“But this matter has absolutely nothing to do with whether Gary Griffith gave ‘sovereign immunity’ whatever that means. This is about a pending default judgment in an American court as a naked example of malice, incompetence and corruption.”
“Government treated a legal and proper lease contract entered by the PP as if they were dealing with the Biche High school or the Children’s Hospital.”
“Their position was that the PP government lease a helicopter – ‘We don’t want that!! Leave it to rot like the UWI campus’,” he said.
”But you can’t abandon legal obligations arising from a contract. If the incoming government didn’t want the damn helicopter, then simply send it back by terminating the lease arrangement. We never buy a helicopter, we leased it. It would have cost but less than $100 million that taxpayers have to pay now for their spite and incompetence.”
He said the PP leased the state-of-the-art helicopter for national security for civilian or military use and it could have been used now when T&T borders are overrun “by fleeing” Venezuelans.
“But for five years now a brand new spanking helicopter park up in a shed in Cumuto doing nothing!!”
“Not even the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) could have gained access to the helicopter. So the CAA could not do inspections or provide registration or airworthiness certificates. This is the real scandal that deserves a public inquiry by the Parliament’s JSC on National Security. Bring it on!”
He said Government failed to implement any and all contractual conditions, defaulted on the lease “and now talking about sovereign immunity.”
“Today this helicopter is at (Camp) Cumuto, waiting on a scrap iron dealer to pick it up. It cannot go back to the USA since there’s no export certificate of airworthiness.”
“In the ongoing matter in New York, Government refused to put in an appearance, to file documents or offer a defence out of spite. If T&T has to fork out $100M for this idle piece of iron, it must come from Rowley gratuity, Stuart Young salary and Al-Rawi rentals! Not taxpayers.”
Moonilal also said the statements of despair by the Deputy Chairman of the Procurement Regulation Board who resigned yesterday showed he could “not swallow spit and take final emasculation”.
He said Government was deliberately chasing away people with the credibility, integrity and expertise to manage procurement, “so they can eventually install a PNM party group.”