Nalcor's refusal to disclose contractor rates 'doesn't pass my smell test,' says premier
Dwight Ball says inquiry into Muskrat Falls spending will begin 'as soon as possible'
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball says Nalcor's secrecy on Muskrat Falls contractors doesn't pass his "smell test."
Over the weekend, a report in the Telegramrevealed about 90 per cent of the hydroelectric project's management team is made up of embedded contractors, which have billed nearly 4.6 million hours to the provincial energy corporation. But Nalcor refused to disclose the hourly billing rates of contractors, declaring it "commercially sensitive information" under a provision in the Energy Corporation Act.
Asked about the report Monday, Ball said he doesn't buy it.
"It doesn't pass my smell test that this is commercially sensitive," he said. "Once we put money out there, taxpayers' money, simply saying that it's commercially sensitive doesn't pass the smell test for me. I'll be reaching out to the board of directors to get to the bottom of this."
Departments asked for inquiry terms of reference
The report has renewed calls for an inquiry of Muskrat Falls. The provincial government has committed to one, but has also said any inquiry or audit shouldn't disrupt the project. Ball clarified Monday that doesn't mean an investigation would wait until after the project is finished.
"We've been saying that we will get this inquiry started as quickly as possible," he said, adding that he's asked the government departments involved to come up with terms of reference for the inquiry.
We're not waiting for people to be packing their lunch boxes and getting off that site before the inquiry will be done.- Dwight Ball
"Our objective here was to get this project finished strong. We did not want to cause any disruption," he said.
"We are not waiting for people to be packing their lunch boxes and getting off that site before the inquiry will be done. We'll be getting that started as quickly as possible. People in this province, they have a right to know what's going on at Muskrat Falls. It's their money that's being spent."