PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad – A lack of oversight and a questionable tendering process were some of the revelations made at Monday’s sitting of the Joint Select Committee on State Enterprises, as the questioned representatives of Caribbean Airlines Limited.
It was revealed that the airline spent US$700 million to purchase five ATR aircraft, while the purchase of four planes was cancelled at a cost of more than $6 million.
“So, what you’re telling this committee and telling the population of Trinidad and Tobago is that $700 million of taxpayers’ money was spent and there is zero documentation that you can find or exist within the company now to show that some proper process was followed,” Committee Chairman David Small said to the CAL reps including Colville Carrington, VP Maintenance and Engineering; and Dionne Ligoure, Head of Corporate Communications.
Carrington’s reponse was: “Chair we have documentation on the process that was used for acquiring the ATR aircraft.”
Added to the revelations of financial mismanagement was a $2 million report which was commissioned but was swept under the rug for two years.
The report, which was compiled to serve as a guide for the overall management and structural framework of the company was never implemented. The CAL representatives claimed it was hidden from higher management.
“The company spent $2 million on this piece of work. An extensive terms of reference was prepared by the company and a company was engaged and they prepared a report. But based on the documentation provided to us by the management, all of you who are sitting here, and I think most of you would have been present at the time, the information from the Corporate Secretary is that the company was not aware of the existence or they are now seeing it for the first time,” Small said.
“We have a difficulty understanding how you could spend $2 million of taxpayers’ money and nobody is able to evidence seeing the report or know anything about it.”
There were also tales of abuse of power with the chairman calling out the number of personal flights taken by some CAL pilots.
“One hundred individual flights. Now, I understand and we accept that a pilot can use the jump seat for personal use, but I would think that in a calendar year 100 individual flights is a lot. That is a lot. That’s probably one every three days. Does this person actually do any other work?”
It was recommended by the Committee Chairman to the CEO and Chairman of CAL that they make immediate adjustments to curb some of the problems affecting the airline.