Deputy Political Leader of the PDP Farley Augustine said he now has official THA Executive Council notes and receipts, which he believes proves that the PNM mismanaged the now controversial zip line project.
But although Augustine intends to submit the information to the auditor general, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and Police Commissioner Gary Griffith, THA Chief secretary Ancil Dennis said he, (Augustine) is misleading the public.
Augustine threw his supporters into a frenzy while speaking at a Charlotteville community meeting on Sunday night by brandishing an envelope he said contained official THA documents and receipts in his possession.
He said while PNM Tobago Council leaders are trying to pass the blame on to public servants, a “patriotic Tobagonian” left the envelope in his mailbox. Just days before while speaking in the same Charlotteville Community Chief Secretary Dennis said the records being sought by the Auditor General was from previous years and required that public servants search “dusty files.”
The PDP Deputy Political Leader said according to the files in his possession, the THA budgeted $4 million for the project and a total of $3.5 million was spent instead of $2.5 as originally stated.
“$2.5 million was paid to the foreign company but we have spent on this project – inclusive of hotel and stays for Tobago officials in Miami, inclusive of hotel stay for the company to come and do sight visits, inclusive of food and drinks – we have spent in excess of $3.5 million on this project”
Describing the statements made by PNM Tobago Council Leader Tracy Davidson Celestine as the “biggest lie ever told” Augustine accused her of trying to “trick Tobagonians” in June last year when she said the project is 85 per cent complete. And according to the THA Executive Council notes, the project should have been completed in September 2015.
“The service provider was ready to deliver all parts and equipment for the zip line tour, but Tobago had very little to show for the over $3.5 million spent, the only thing on this island for the zip line is a piece of rope they paid Baird’s rental $1,000 to pick up and bring up from Trinidad.”
Augustine said he intends to send the documents to the office of the Auditor General to complete the audit as well as the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and Police Commissioner of Gary Griffith.
He also challenged Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis to a public debate on the mismanagement of the finances of the Tobago House of Assembly.
Guardian Media reached out to both Davidson-Celestine and Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis for a comment on this latest development, while there was no response from Davidson-Celestine, Dennis said the documents being brandished by Augustine were actually Executive Council Notes giving approval for the project.
“The project didn’t happen by vaps it was a policy decision to pursue this kind of development as part of our tourism thrust at an estimated cost of $4million.”
Dennis said he been pursuing the zip line project for the last seven months and Augustine is misleading the public into thinking the money was stolen and those responsible for the act are currently running the THA.
Dennis said he “is only aware of one candidate in the election whose past actions attracted the attention of the TTPS and that is his (Augustine’s) political leader.”
He advised Augustine to submit whatever evidence he has to support his idea of criminal conduct.
On November 12, last year, the Auditor General’s Department wrote a management letter to the THA Chief Administrator on the findings of an audit. The Auditor General noted, “no approval was presented from the THA’s Executive Council for the establishment of the facility.” The report said a visit to the stores section of the division revealed only a portion of rope.