Friday, December 15, 2017

All the 'ingredients for corruption'

Concern over Invaders Bay bidding

President of the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry (JCC) Afra Raymond says that neither he nor his colleagues are against any project or person seeking to develop Invaders Bay.

Speaking to the Express via telephone yesterday, Raymond said, "We are not trying to stop any particular project or any particular person. I want to be crystal clear on that. We are trying to promote a proper process in the development of our country."

Raymond described the tendering process as having "the ingredients for corruption."

"The Request for Proposals (RFP) process is absolutely, deeply flawed. It leads to corruption. I'm not accusing anyone of corruption but the ingredients are on the table for corruption. We've seen it in this country before.

"The ingredients are: a lack of transparency, a lack of a proper process, and a lack of rules by which tenders are evaluated. We don't even know the rules; they have not even been established. Lack of public consultation is a pattern in the country in which the largest projects get decided behind closed doors and the first time citizens hear about them is after they have already been awarded. By then it's too late. This has been going on for decades and it has to stop," he said.

"Whoever wins, what we are fighting for is that that success is the result of a proper process. If a project takes place in this country my members get work. There is no hostility as far as we are concerned," he continued.

Raymond has contended that the requirements of the RFP cannot be practically completed in the stipulated six-week from August 31. The deadline for submissions was yesterday at 4 p.m.The Ministry of Planning and the Economy, said in a release yesterday, ten investment proposals were received by the deadline.

"Submissions will be reviewed by the Ministry, following which each developer will be contacted to review the criteria for assessment and to engage the issues of infrastructure expectations from government, environmental considerations and other socio-economic concerns," said the release.

Businessman Derek Chin, whose MovieTowne complex borders Invaders Bay, is in the running for the award of the Government's lease to develop the area. In a telephone interview with the Express , Chin said that the six-week deadline was "quite reasonable."

Raymond said that his organisation had raised the issue with Planning Minister Bhoe Tewarie and Trade Minister Stephen Cadiz, holding a meeting and sending letters voicing their concerns but Government has yet to re-evaluate the RFP process.

"What we are saying is large projects are being decided in secrecy. At this moment in time people might say nothing's been decided yet but when it's been announced, it will have been too late to do anything. We need to change this pattern if we are to start practicing new politics," said Raymond.

Cadiz and Chin have said in previous reports that Raymond and the JCC had "jumped the gun" in their criticisms, but Raymond said, "That is not a reasonable point of view. It's baseless and misleading. We want to learn from the experience in the past. That is how you progress your country."