Government begins process to settle outstanding EFCL payments to contractors
The Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis, Minister of Planning and Development has been authorized by the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago to discuss the settlement of outstanding payments by the Education Facilities Company Limited (EFCL) to contractors. This process has begun with Minister Robinson-Regis chairing a meeting today, Tuesday May 15th, 2018 at the Eric Williams Finance Building with the Honourable Anthony Garcia, Minister of Education; Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Planning and Development, Mrs. Joanne Deoraj; members of the Board of the EFCL and at least 30 contractors present.
The Ministry of Planning and Development is collaborating with the Ministry of Education to resolve the matter because this involves capital investment through the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP), which is the mandate of the Ministry of Planning and Development. The PSIP is the strategic instrument for the development of Trinidad and Tobago, and therefore the funding of education in general and specifically the maintenance and construction of schools is a priority for this Government.
This is evident from the fact that in 2016 TT $7 billion was allocated to education via the PSIP, $5.2 billion in 2017 and $5.1 billion in 2018. The decline in allocations have of course been affected by the current economic climate.
Minister Garcia stated that the situation is troubling and finances were not available to sort out the matter 2 years ago, however, things have improved financially and the Government is now in a position to move forward to begin the payments and have schools completed. Minister Robinson-Regis asserted to the contractors that calls will begin over the course of the coming week to conduct meetings individually to begin the process of settling claims.
Please see Minister Robinson-Regis’ remarks to the contractors below.
Let me begin by indicating that I have been authorized by the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago to discuss the settlement of outstanding payments by EFCL to contractors. The Cabinet is of the firm view that the matter is sufficiently serious that contractors should have the comfort of discussing with a senior member of the proposals for the settlement of these outstanding payments.
I also want to make it quite clear that the non-payment of contractors to date has not been intentional or as a result of any form of victimization, but simply as a consequence of an absence of funds to pay, along with the absence of the expected checks and balances put in place by those who entered into the contracts with you, to properly verify your claims before payment. In any event, it is clear to the Cabinet that all legitimate claims must be settled to the best of our ability, and as quickly as possible. In furtherance of this, we have identified some funds to settle claims.
While fortunately EFCL will pay, it cannot pay the entire outstanding sum all at one time, and as such, it will be proposing a payment plan. Further, EFCL will have no choice but to request a discount on the sum due. This quite simply is the only way that EFCL will be able to settle all of the claims.
I therefore request, regardless of whether you have an action filed before the Court, whether you have a judgment, or whether you have already submitted a written claim, that you submit a fresh claim to my office setting out the following:
- The sum outstanding;
- The work done which is the basis of the claim;
- Any evidence of verification or approval of the completion of the work and the subsequent claim for payment to EFCL;
- Whether the work is complete;
- If the work is not complete, your willingness to complete same, and at what cost;
- Your proposal for a payment plan;
- Your proposal for a discount; and
- Any proposal you consider may be worth considering for the settlement of your claim including any possible set off.
This request will be put to you all individually in writing, but the Cabinet felt it important that I first meet with you face to face in order to communicate the proposed course of action and to express our very firm commitment to a resolution that is within the country’s means, fair to you, and as expeditious as possible.
I ask for your sincere cooperation in the above regard.