“CDB Revokes Contract …Withdraws Funding”, is the caption of an article on the back page of the Vincentian Newspaper dated Friday, 12th July, 2019. The story reveals that the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has revoked the contract awarded for River Defense Works at Yarabaqua River (Belle Vue) and has also withdrawn funding for the project.
The information available thus far, a complaint was lodged by an unsuccessful bidder for the project. The CDB then conducted a review of the project. And, in a letter to the tenders from the Ministry of Transport and Works dated 27th June, 2019, states, “The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) conducted a review of the procurement for the contract, and has declared misprocurement for the contract for the River Defense Works at Yarabaqua under the captioned Project.”
The letter further sates, “The CDB financing allocated to this contract will be cancelled and any amounts already withdrawn and paid in relation to the contract will be repaid by the recipient, the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with interest. CDB will therefore no longer finance this contract.”
Undoubtedly, this is an embarrassment to the Unity Labour Party (ULP) government. The ULP government has once again tarnished the image of St. Vincent and Grenadines. Look what this ULP government has done to our country! It has caused the CDB to withdraw funding from such an important River Defense Project. Never, in its fifty years of existence, has the CDB withdrawn funding from any project. The CDB was forced to take such action because the procurement rules were violated. We cannot fault the company that was awarded the contract. They had a right like any other company to bid for the project. The ULP regime must take the blame and responsibility for what went wrong.
What happened to this project sums up the manner in which the ULP administration conducts business in this country. It has a track record for a lack of accountability. This ULP regime is perceived as the most corrupt administration ever, since conquest and settlement to govern St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Do you remember the “Bridge over troubled water” and the comments that were made in relation to the Tenders Board? Do you recall the fight that the New Democratic Party (NDP) had with the ULP government on the issue of accountability of the Argyle International Airport? Do you recall the fight the NDP had with the ULP government on the issue of accountability and transparency with Petro Caribe funds? Accountability and transparency goes to the core of good governance.
Therefore, it is for the Minister of Finance or the chief spokesperson for the government to explain to Vincentians what went wrong. If this is not done in a timely manner; it will leave the populace to speculate, as some persons have already begun to do so. The government needs to clear the air as soon as possible. The ULP government has damaged our reputation regionally and internationally. We must mend our relation with the CDB. It’s the major funding institution in the region.
Further, the government must address the issue of counterpart financing for projects. Is the government meeting its obligation to lending institutions as it relates to counterpart funding? How many projects are held up or unable to commence because the government has not met its commitment to lending institutions for counterpart funding? These issues and more, the ULP government must address. The ULP administration has failed miserably. It is time for them to go.
Zero tolerance on corruption
The NDP will have a “Zero Tolerance” policy on corruption, and anyone found to be involved in corruption will be dealt with swiftly and to the fullest extent of the law. The NDP also believes that corruption stems from a lack of good governance practices, poor transparency and the absence of accountability. Therefore, for employment services and suppliers contracted by the state, the NDP will implement laws requiring transparency, and implement a new structure with regard to the tendering of public sector projects.
The NDP believes that accountability and transparency encourage the efficient and effective use of national resources. All government agencies and its officials have the responsibility of ensuring that all procurement processes are transparent and accountable. Accountability demands that procedures be in place to ensure that procurement processes are conducted ethically. All procurement related actions must be transparent, documented and substantiated in accordance with legislation.
Governments carry a great responsibility for the prudent management of the public’s resources. Within the public financial management framework, public procurement is an important activity conducted by all relevant departments and government agencies. The guidelines concerning procurement are a key mechanism to enable agencies to manage public resources efficiently, effectively and ethically.
The NDP will ensure that officials maintain a strong focus in achieving value for money. As such, we have sought to further highlight and strengthen references to this principle. Our focus on seeking the greatest value for money will enhance transparency of procurement practices across our government agencies. The adoption of these new practices will increase opportunity and access for our competitive small and medium sized enterprises. They also allow agencies to act in a manner consistent with international procurement agreements.
Value for money is the core principle underpinning the NDP’s proposed procurement policy. In our procurement process, the principle requires a comparative analysis throughout the entire procurement process of all relevant costs and benefits of each proposal. The principle of value for money is enhanced by public procurement through: encouraging competition by ensuring non-discrimination in procurement and using competitive procurement processes, promoting the use of resources in an efficient, effective and ethical way, and making decisions in an accountable and transparent manner. The NDP is ready to make SVG work for all Vincentians.