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SVG giving CDB a bad name – Arnhim Eustace

SVG giving CDB a bad name – Arnhim Eustace
Left to Right: Arnhim Eustace & Cameron Balcombe

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“Our bank [is] given bad name because of St Vincent and the Grenadines; something it never had.”

Former opposition leader, Arnhim Eustace had this to say about the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) recent decision to declare a mis-procurement in relation to a project for river defence works to be done at the Yarabaqua river, which is located on the Windward side of this country.

Eustace, who worked at the Bank as the director of projects, said during a call to Nice Radio on Tuesday that it is a rare occurrence for a mis-procurement to be declared.

He further said the declaration of mis-procurement means that SVG has done wrong and everyone will know of this wrongdoing.

Eustace said there are 17 countries in the region who borrow money from the CDB. In addition to this, there are also several other countries which are non-borrowing members of the bank.

These countries include Canada, China, Columbia, Germany, Italy, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Venezuela.

The former opposition leader also said that major financial institutions and lending agencies also contribute to the CDB and these include the InterAmerican Development Bank, the World Bank and Kuwaiti Fund for Economic Development.

“I want people to understand. This is no small bank as we’d like to think. CDB has lent to our borrowing countries in this region US$5 billion since it started…and has loaned close to $300 million to our borrowing member countries per year,” he said. “It’s a lot of money, so when we make a mistake like we made here —or played the fool as I prefer to say— it comes to the attention of many people, many institutions worldwide.”

Eustace expressed his concern about the impact of CDB’s demand for SVG to pay back monies loaned for the project with interest.

He said that this will bring shame and disgrace to this country and SVG will be seen as a state that cannot be trusted.

“…I believe it’s ours and we should be…to the other countries the right example in terms of what to do and the regulations of the bank. It’s our bank. It belongs to the people of the region and it has done well and continues to serve the people of this region well to the tune of US$5 billion,” Eustace said.

The CDB’s decision to pull funding for the contract follows a letter of objection by unsuccessful tenderer, Bally and Bally Investments Inc, whose managing director, Cameron Balcombe alleged that “a false declaration made in their (Reliable Construction Services Ltd) forms or unlawful and unfair intervention by someone of influence on their behalf”.

And Balcombe, in an interview this week on the Facebook program “Early in the Morning with Jerry S George”, said this is not the first time he has contacted the CDB in relation to contracts that he thought were unfairly awarded or did not follow proper procedures. He further said that a Bank representative told him that they wished there were more contractors like him.

“They said ‘we do not know what is going on out here, you have to be the eyes and ears and anytime you have a problem Mr Balcombe,…do not be afraid in any way to contact us immediately…’,” Balcombe said in his interview, adding that he had been given a specific phone number and email address to contact persons at the bank.

On Wednesday, SEARCHLIGHT reached out to Dorla Humes, adviser to the CDB president with responsibility for corporate communications and posed certain questions to her on the matter.

Humes said the Bank’s technical team was working on a response, and late yesterday, the CDB issued a release captioned “CDB Statement on procurement processes.”

The statement said in part: “Recipients of the financing are responsible for managing CDB-financed projects, including the award and administration of contracts under the projects, in accordance with the Bank’s procurement policies and procedures. These are underpinned by principles of economy, efficiency, fairness and transparency.

“Where a contract is not procured in accordance with its policies and procedures, CDB will declare misprocurement and will cancel the financing for the contract even if a no-objection had already been issued by the Bank.”

The statement also said it is not the Bank’s practice to comment publicly on the specific details of individual procurement contract awards; and the information provided is not a comment on a specific project.

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