Kattuk stumped by question
Kivalliq residents fear they might end up subsidizing the GN’s fuel distribution contract after the department of public works chose a Labrador firm over Inuit-owned Northern Transportation Company Ltd. to deliver fuel to the region, Baker Lake MLA Glenn McLean said this week.
He asked Public Works Minister Peter Kattuk if his department had considered the region’s interests when making the decision to separate the supply and distribution portions of the contract, previously both held by NTCL.
“I am concerned that not all consumers have been considered in this decision. This may save the government money in fuel distribution, but will it end up costing the consumer even more?” McLean said in a member’s statement.
“I want a guarantee that dry cargo rates will not increase.”
During question period, McLean again sought reassurance. “Can the minister assure me that consumers will not pay for fuel savings through the purchase of their dry goods?”
Kattuk made several attempts to answer the question, each time failing to address McLean’s specific concern. “I can’t give him a definitive answer at this time, because we are still looking at the situation,” Kattuk said.
McLean continued, making the point that if shipping costs were to increase significantly, it would not only be ordinary consumers who would suffer. “The government may be on the hook for an extra $2 million to $3 million in freight if we don’t have the cost settled beforehand,” he said.
The minister gave McLean his best guess, falling short of a definitive answer. “I expect this will be cheaper than NTCL. I don’t have a big concern that it will be more expensive,” he said.
It took a second round of questioning, this time by Iqaluit Centre MLA Hunter Tootoo, to get a definitive answer out of the minister.
His answer, essentially, was that the GN hopes to secure a lower rate for dry cargo transportation than it has paid in the past, and has put out a request for proposals. In that sense, the department did take the interests of Kivalliq residents into consideration and continues to look after their interests as the RFP deadline approaches.