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JCC wades into Invader’s Bay project
The approach being taken by the People’s Partnership Government to the Invader’s Bay project represents a continuation of the old and makes it a breach of trust and promise to the national community. This was the view of the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry (JCC) which held a media conference at the Hilton Trinidad yesterday. Repeating their call for proper public procurement systems, JCC president Afra Raymond insisted that they are not trying to stop the Government’s development of 70 acres of land at Invader’s Bay nor prevent any particular person from getting the contract.
“There is a huge act of procurement taking place there (Invader’s Bay) and the situation has all the ingredients for corruption,” Raymond said. Some of the JCC’s problems with the project include:
• Proposals were to be submitted within an unrealistically short time scale (October 4) for such a huge development.
• There has been no stakeholder participation in the development process.
• The request for proposal (RFP) by the Ministry of Planning requires that the new development must be complementary to the existing development of Movietowne Complex, which seems inexplicable and impractical.
• The RFP is silent to as to the requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment.
• The spoils go to one developer.
JCC immediate past president Winston Riley said the group has written to Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie to state their objection and ask for a revision of the process. He said they attended a meeting with Tewarie and Trade and Industry Minister Stephen Cadiz on September 26. “We note that our concerns have not been addressed.” Riley said the lack of a proper needs assessment is also a glaring omission in the Invader’s Bay matter.
“We were told (by the Ministers) that the evaluation rules would be finalised after the submissions were received. “We regard that as completely unacceptable,” Riley said. The JCC said the PP promised to pass legislation reforming the procurement process by May this year but noted that it has not happened. Riley said the public procurement legislative process has paused. He said work started by an original Joint Select Committee of Parliament into the matter was preserved until a new JSC takes over.
“We were advised that the new JSC is to be appointed shortly to complete the work of the original JSC. “We would like to note that our private/civil society group stands ready to resume work on this.” Riley said they are proposing new public procurement systems which they are hoping will become legislation. He said the new systems will “enhance competition, reduce political interference in the award of contracts and act as an effective anti-corruption measure.
“Given the far-reaching consequences of these proposals, the Government must publish the draft legislation for public comment before the matter is debated in Parliament,” Riley said. He said one of the JCC’s greatest concerns on the public procurement matter relates to the UFF report, arising out of the UFF Commission of Inquiry into the Construction Sector. “The Minister of Justice Herbert Volney is responsible for the implementation of the 91 recommendations in the UFF report.
“The JCC has written to Minister Volney on three occasions to offer our assistance in any working group the Ministry might have established. “We have never had a reply,” Riley said.