Opposition Leader wants full disclosure of tender evaluation report
Opposition leader, Dr Godwin Friday is calling on the Tenders Board to disclose the full tender evaluation reports for the Yarabaqua river project, on which the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has declared a mis-procurement.
Friday was speaking at a press conference this week when he called for four things to be done by the government to demonstrate its transparency and answer the “legitimate questions” of the people in relation to the project.
“The ‘no-objection’ granted by the CDB therefore assumes that the government and its agents are acting ethically and have done their job properly. It did not amount to an approval of a fraudulent contract in the present case,” he said. “But, as we now know, this is where the CDB has run into a problem. In their dealings with the Ralph Gonsalves administration, they are dealing with an unethical, corrupt administration. And don’t be fooled, they know it. And that is why they are now standing up for ethics and saying no to fraud and corruption.”
The river defence project was awarded through a tendering process to Reliable Construction Services Ltd. It was recently revealed that CDB made the decision to pull funding from the project taking place on the Windward side of the island, following a letter of objection by unsuccessful tenderer, Bally and Bally Investments Inc, whose managing director, Cameron Balcombe alleged “a false declaration made in their (Reliable Construction Services Ltd) forms or unlawful and unfair intervention by someone of influence on their behalf”.
Dr Friday, on Tuesday this week, said that the government should provide full disclosure of the complete tender evaluation report because this tender is already subject to a public opening.
“…the prices were already read out in public, so the prices proposed by the various contractors are known. Therefore, there is no secret or impediment to releasing the full tender evaluation report…” he said.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, in a statement last week, confirmed that the project will continue and will be funded using state resources and Reliable Construction Services Ltd as the contractor executing the project, due to their completion of six-months worth of work prior to the declaration of mis-procurement.
And the opposition leader is calling for full disclosure of the names of the owners and beneficial owners of the company Reliable Construction Services Ltd because “the company is being paid by taxpayers, therefore every tax payer has the right to know who they are paying”.
He also called for a statement by Camillo Gonsalves, this country’s finance minister and representative on the CDB Board of Governors.
Friday said the government’s response so far has done nothing to answer the questions on everyone’s mind; “What went wrong to lead to a case where the CDB declared mis-procurement on the contract?”
“As SVG’s representative on the CDB’s Board of Governors, Camillo Gonsalves is required to uphold the integrity of the institution and to ensure that it always acts in accordance with the public good and the principles of good corporate governance,” he said. “As this country’s Minister of Finance, he has the same responsibility for ethics and transparency in dealing with matters relating to the public finances, in short, to adhere to principles of accountability! We need to hear from the Minister of Finance to ensure that the government does not bad-spend taxpayers’ money as it appears that they are determined to do.”
Finally, the opposition leader called for an investigation into the matter to be carried out by a “competent and independent agency” as all facts that led to the declaration of mis-procurement by the CDB should be established.
He said that the results of this investigation should be made public and all corrective measures should be taken to ensure that it does not happen again.
Allegations of corruption and fraud have been hurled at the government and the Tenders Board as a result of the CDB’s declaration of mis-procurement in relation to the project.
Chairman of the Tenders Board, Edmond Jackson said in a statement issued last week that the misprocurement declared by the CDB does not amount to corruption.
“…Indeed there is absolutely no allegation of corruption, fraud, impropriety or misbehaviour in public office by any official of the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines or elsewhere,” he said.
“The CDB’s review indicates essentially that the conditionalities and rules were not scrupulously applied, thus leading to its holding of unfairness in the process of competitive bidding.”
The value of the current mis-procurement is said to be just over $1.4million and Jackson said this is a smalal percentage of the total procurements undertaken by the government with the CDB and in no way characterises the state of the government’s procurement system.