President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. WmWarren Smith, and a team from the Bank, met recently with the Hon. Camillo Gonsalves, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning, Sustainable Development, and Information and other representatives of the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the capital Kingstown. President Smith highlighted the strong partnership with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines since the Bank commenced its operations almost 50 years ago. He reiterated the Bank’s determination to continue working collaboratively with the Government to realise its desire for a better future for its people.
The President acknowledged the ongoing public discussion on the Yarabaqua River Defence Project in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Bank’s recent decision to declare a misprocurement on this Project.
He stressed the importance of clarity with respect to CDB’s procurement practices, particularly as recipients of CDB-financed projects are responsible for undertaking procurement in accordance with prevailing CDB procurement policies and procedures. For capital projects, recipients typically hire experienced independent consultants to prepare the technical designs and to evaluate, and advise on, the procurement and supervision of contractors.
He noted that CDB is not a party to the contracts awarded under a project. It plays a supervisory role, checking that the procurement process undertaken conforms to its guidelines. The Bank does not participate in the evaluation of bids or proposals. However, for major contracts, the Bank will provide a “no-objection” to key procurement documents, such as evaluation reports, before the process continues to the next stage.
Against this background, President Smith observed that misprocurement may result when a contract is not procured in full compliance with CDB’s policies and procedures. He stated that even if a contract is awarded after obtaining a “no objection” from CDB, the Bank may still declare misprocurement in certain limited circumstances, including where it subsequently receives key information in relation to the process.
The President confirmed that the Bank had originally granted a “no objection” to the award of a contract under the Project, based on the bid evaluation report prepared by the independent consultants. Misprocurement was subsequently declared by the Bank as the procurement process was determined, on review, to be not in accordance with the Bank’s procurement guidelines. The President reiterated his previous assertion that there had been no finding by the Bank of fraud or corruption in declaring the misprocurement.
The President drew attention to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ new Public Procurement Act, which was passed in December 2018 as part of an ongoing procurement reform programme for member countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean. He noted that with the passage of this Act, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has one of the most robust legislative frameworks in the Caribbean.