PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Chartered surveyor Afra Raymond has won the right to have certain documents, which so far have been kept secret, involving Trinidad and Tobago government’s deal with Sandals Resorts International to construct a 500-750-room hotel in Tobago.
On Thursday, Justice Frank Seepersad ruled in favour of Raymond in the San Fernando High Court in Trinidad, and also granted him leave to seek judicial review of government’s decision to withhold details about the construction of a hotel for Sandals’ Golden Grove, Tobago, Newsday reported.
In March, Raymond had sought disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, in letters to the Prime Minister’s Office, of the relevant memorandum of understanding (MOU), but got no reply. In a lawsuit for judicial review of government’s inaction in furnishing him with the MOU, Raymond contended that the resort will be constructed on prime state lands in Tobago, the cost of which the state will bear for Sandals.
Further, Raymond submitted in an affidavit, its construction will have an impact on the use of water, electricity, solid waste and further infrastructural development of the airport in Tobago. The consultant valuer and surveyor contended that, as a result, the relevant stakeholders ought to have been consulted.
Raymond named the permanent secretary to the prime minister as respondent in the lawsuit. Attorney Kingsley Walesby represented him and Seeperasad delivered an oral ruling on Thursday morning. The judge granted Raymond a declaration that he was entitled to the information and further ordered the prime minister’s office to provide him with the MOU.
The state was not represented but the case will come up for a case management conference on October 29. It is expected that, by then, the attorney general’s department will have been served with the ruling and will file a response.