After one controversial article too many,Doug Gilmour Jersey, Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud called a press conference yesterday to silence critics of the Hope Canal Project.The Minister spoke on a number of issues surrounding the project. These issues have been raised through articles and letters in the print media over recent months.Foremost among these was the issue of transparency which Persaud said he wanted to put to rest. He said that after the initial consultation period the project design was presented to the public for further consultation.Yesterday President Bharrat Jagdeo said that the design was done by Mott McDonald,Kris Versteeg Jersey, a foreign entity. That and other specifications were posted on the government web site for three weeks to allow for comments and queries.In addition,Antti Niemi Jersey, requests from opposition members of Parliament for further information on the project were also met by his office. The Minister spoke of supplying documentation so voluminous to the National Assembly that it had to be digitised for distribution.The documentation in question was a combination of two sets of information. The first,Scott Hartnell Jersey, a geotechnical report that consisted of almost 230 pages of nothing but graphs,Patrik Berglund Jersey, charts and tables relating information on the soil characteristics of the Hope Canal route.The final 40 pages of the document are technical drawings of the civil works to be done along the length of the canal as well as at both ends. Nowhere in the entire 270 page document is there any mention of cost or any cost related breakdown for the project.When asked specifically about a cost breakdown for the project and amounts spent thus far on the project the Minister replied that the figures were just an estimate and that the actual figures would be determined by the bids that were accepted for each portion of the project.The Minister pointed out that as soon as a part of the project is tendered out then that part of the project comes into the public domain. The next set of invitations to tender should go out on January 23,Ryan Suter Jersey, according to Persaud. These are for the civil works on the Canal such as the sluices at either end as well as the bridge that will let the East Coast Highway cross the Canal.Persaud went on to point out that he is perturbed by claims that there is no transparency or accountability in the Ministry’s undertaking of the project. He voiced the opinion that perhaps the instigators of what the NDIA has called in previous letters “an orchestrated attempt to deceive the public” were perhaps contractors who were peeved at the fact that the Ministry is attempting to undertake certain parts of the project on their own in an effort to save tax-payer dollars.He stated that as a result of the Ministry’s decision to undertake the excavation works themselves they expect to see savings of some $600M on the project costs. Persaud also pointed out that all of the bidding processes are completely transparent citing the tender process for the operation of the excavators which he claims is only costing the NDIA some $24,Connor Hellebuyck Team North America Jersey,700 per day. This claim was echoed by President Jagdeo when he held a press conference of his own yesterday afternoon.The feasibility of the project was also addressed with Persaud explaining that the losses in the communities surrounding the Conservancy during and after a ‘serious flood event’ amounted to some $15M – the estimated cost of the project.The use of resources during the recent delays also came to the fore during the press conference.Several weeks ago it was announced that works on a certain portion of the Hope Canal were halted because the soil conditions along with the inclement weather made it difficult and even dangerous for works to continue.Minister Persaud yesterday explained that the resources from that location were simply redeployed elsewhere along the canal’s path,Antoine Roussel Jersey, however he noted that they were being mobilised to return to the area where work was suspended.