History

The JCC has been in existence for thirty two (32) years and originated when related organizations in the construction sector came together to scrutinize and assess the prevailing industry conditions and make recommendations and undertake improvements for the benefit of all stakeholders. As such, the JCC is and always has been an agent of positive change for the nation. Part of the JCC's approach has been to operate as both "watchdog" and coordinator for the construction industry.

The JCC in its capacity as "watchdog" for the construction industry:
  1. has raised the issue of problems related to the administration of the Secondary Education Modernization Programme (SEMP) by the National Maintenance Training and Security Co. Ltd. (MTS) which led to the establishment of two separate investigations namely, an enquiry undertaken by the then Minister of Finance, Mr. Gerald Yetming and an investigation undertaken by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) which recommended that the Biche High School be abandoned as "unfit for occupancy". This led in 2002 to the establishment of the Biche Commission of Enquiry which found that there was a consistent disregard for the highest standards of prudence and care and a marked unwillingness to be proactive in respect of the construction of the school" ;
  2. canvassed for the establishment of the Commission of Enquiry into the $1.6 Billion Piarco International Airport Terminal Building Project. For the purpose of that Enquiry the JCC undertook the task of gathering facts, evaluating and safeguarding information and documents, analyzing the procurement practices used for the award of contracts to consultants and contractors and selected and documented the role of persons and companies involved. After expressing its concerns to various Government officials which were ignored, on the 6th March, 1997 the JCC held a press conference and advised the nation of its concerns with the Piarco Project and publicly called for a cease in the departure from the original concept of the Central Tenders Board. The JCC increased media knowledge and public awareness of what went on with this project and took a firm stand on transparency in public procurement;
  3. provided a submission to the Commission of Enquiry into the Piarco Airport Terminal Building Project ("Piarco Project") which set out a comprehensive history of the various incarnations of the Piarco Project under various governments and removed the corporate veil from the various incarnations of companies trying to obtain contracts. The corruption uncovered at Piarco has eroded public confidence in the integrity of Government, the construction industry and our procurement systems;
  4. wrote to the United States Ambassador and the United States Justice Department (on several occasions) about potential violations of United States law in respect of the Piarco Project. Through a mutual assistance treaty in criminal matters, the U.S. Justice Department and the Trinidad and Tobago Attorney General's office cooperated and arrest warrants were issued against the suspects in the United States District Court for the Southern District in the matter of USA v Gutierrez, et al for defrauding the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. According to the Indictment filed in the United States, eight (8) of the defendants conspired to engage in wire fraud by rigging the bid process to secure construction contracts. In addition, the Indictment charged seven (7) of the defendants with conspiring to launder money received as a result of the fraud. According to the charges in the Indictment, the defendants participated in transferring money paid by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to one of the defendant corporations through a series of complex financial transactions designed to conceal the origin of the fraudulently obtained funds. There are pending trials in both jurisdictions. Two former government ministers, several businessmen and political party financiers have been charged with fraud in Trinidad. In the United States, eight individuals and two companies were indicted on conspiracy charges, including the lead architects for the project, contractors, suppliers, and two businessmen from Trinidad. Subsequently, the American defendants pleaded guilty to money laundering, bank fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy. The U.S. State Department's 2007 Country Report of Trinidad and Tobago's record on Human Rights Practices stated that the courts continued to hear a case that implicated the most senior members of the 1995-2001 UNC government in embezzlement and bid-rigging on the Piarco Airport expansion project. At year's end the corruption case against then Prime Minister Panday, charging that he had accepted a bribe that led his government to favour a contractor on the project, was still being heard in the courts. Two Trinidadian businessmen are still opposing their extradition to the United States to face the charges there.
  5. entered into discussions with Trinidad Cement Limited, the main supplier of cement in the country, with respect to the increase in the price of cement and were able to convince TCL to keep its prices stable for a period of three (3) years.
The JCC has also been actively involved in the improvement of procurement policies and procedures in Trinidad and Tobago in light of the various types of project delivery and financial systems utilised in modern procurement processes with a view to making recommendations to the Government of the day and regulatory and advisory bodies. In this regard:
  1. the JCC has held meetings with representatives of the World Bank who came to Trinidad and Tobago to gather information on local procurement processes and the submission made by the JCC was incorporated in a World Bank Report.
  2. the JCC met with State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) to review, discuss and comment on their procurement and contract management policies and procedures as they relate to contractors and consultants;
  3. the JCC has approached the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for funding to undertake a study of the existing procurement procedures in Trinidad and Tobago with the view of making detailed recommendations for improvement.
  4. In 2001, the JCC held a meeting with the current Prime Minister and then leader of the Opposition, Mr. Patrick Manning, on the critical issue of the establishment of and compliance with proper procurement policies and procedures utilizing international best practice standards in order to provide value for money, create a business environment of fair trading and accountability, and one in which corruption becomes a high risk, low profit activity.
  5. In May 2002, the JCC presented recommendations at a two-day seminar hosted by the Ministry of Finance and the Inter-American Development Bank on Financial Management Reform.
  6. During the period from 2002 to 2005, the JCC represented the construction industry on a Cabinet-appointed Committee for the Reform of the Public Sector Procurement Regime. The Committee, comprised of representatives of the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association, the Tobago House of Assembly, the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute, Director of Contracts for the Central Tenders Board, the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and a legal drafter and law reform advisor with the Ministry of Finance, was chaired by a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance. The Procurement Reform Committee produced a Green Paper for public comment and subsequently a White Paper was produced and laid in Parliament in 2005. It has languished there despite continued calls from the Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute, the JCC and its individual member organizations, and other civil society organizations.
  7. The JCC was represented on the Prime Minister's appointed Full Employment strategy committee and submitted a compressive document on December 3rd 2003 which determined the manpower requirements for the building construction sector based on proposed plans. The JCC also recommended the use of the Targeted Procurement approach to overcome the negative effects of make work schemes.
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