Minister of Education Dr Tim Gopeesingh has confirmed that he received a letter from Civstruct Associates (CSA) challenging the information given to him by the Education Facilities Company Limited (EFCL) and asking why Civstruct was not awarded the contract for construction of the multi-purpose hall for Lakshmi Girls' Hindu College.
Another company, Envirotech Limited, was awarded the contract even though its bid was one million dollars more than that of Civstruct.
Gopeesingh told the Express in an interview at the Parliament Chamber in Port of Spain, that he has sent the letter and the issue of the award of the contract back to the EFCL board for reconsideration based on the concerns raised in Parliament (by Opposition MP Colm Imbert) about the procurement process and the letter Civstruct wrote.
Imbert had raised questions about the award of the contract to Envirotec Limited, of Milton Road, Couva, whose bid was $1 million more than Civstruct Associations, which is located in St Augustine.
Civstruct Associations (CSA) General Manager Orr Liyanage told the Express that his company has hired a battery of lawyers and is prepared to take the EFCL to court, should it be unsuccessful in its bid, after the board reviews the tenders.
The Express understands that the Board met last week and remains adamant about awarding the contract to EnviroTech, notwithstanding the Minister's concerns.
However, the Minister has the power to ask the Board for an accounting of its decision and a justification of the award as well as instruct it to review its decision.
Sources said that Cabinet has concerns about the manner in which this Board has been operating and sources indicated that there may be some changes to its membership. The Ministry of Finance is currently auditing EFCL on the request of the Education Minister.
Liyanage, in a letter to Gopeesingh that was copied to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance Winston Dookeran, refuted statements which the EFCL board had told Gopeesingh - a) that CSA had no financial capability to fund the project; b) CSA had not done any work for EFCL in the past hence the evaluation of their technical capability was solely a subjective one; c) the acting CEO was an ex-employee of CSA.
On the statement that CSA did not have the financial capability, Liyanage stated that unlike many other contractors who were awarded the EFCL contracts for ECCE Centres, CSA had not applied for any advance payments to start the job. He pointed out that the company was pre-qualified by EFCL for the ECCE programmes under IDB pre-qualification criteria which were more stringent and that EFCL post-qualified CSA for the Lakshmi Girls' Hindu College project.
On the statement that it had not done work for the EFCL in the past, Liyanage said there were no pre-qualification tenders advertised before in this category of work, except for the IDB funded ECCE Centres, which CSA pre-qualified for.
"In September 2011, the EFCL awarded us two pre-schools for construction under the IDB programme, namely Bamboo (Government Primary School) and Barataria AC Early Childhood Care and Education Centres," he said.
Liyanage also stated that Civstruct Associates constructed the Coryal Secondary School when Kamla Persad-Bissessar was Education Minister.
Furthermore, he said, "Civstruct Associates was the only contractor to be awarded two Police Stations, Belmont Police Station and Tunapuna Police Station in 2005, when we scored the highest marks in the pre-qualification evaluation...pre-qualifying, according to the NIPDEC memorandum. Civstruct also constructed the Sports and Physical Education Centre (SPEC) for the University of the West Indies," he said.
On the allegation that the acting CEO was an ex-employee of Civstruct, Liyanage said Kiran Shah, was never an employee of CSA, But Kiran Shah and Associates were hired back in 2005 "on a freelance basis," Liyanage stated.