The CDB diplomatically calls it Misprocurement: we call it misappropriation – The usual fraud and corruption perpetrated by the ULP Regime (Pt.1)
(Excerpts of Dr. Friday’s Press Statement)
We are here to deal with a very serious matter that goes to the heart of the reputation of the Government of our country. More specifically, the matter concerns the declaration by the CDB of misprocurement of contract in the work titled Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Upgrade – River Defense Works at Yarabaqua done under the Natural Disaster Management – Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (December 2013 Trough Event) Project. The contract is valued at EC$ 1, 421, 567.00.
By letter dated 14th September 2018, Mr. Cameron Balcombe managing director of Bally and Bally Investments Limited, wrote to the Chief Engineer in the Ministry of Transport and Works, Urban Development and Local Government objecting to the award of the contract in question to a company called Reliable Construction Services Limited. Bally and Bally was one of several tenderers for the work. The Letter of Objection was copied to Mr. Daniel Best, Director of Projects of the CDB. In the letter of objection, Mr. Balcombe, wrote, in part: “I am confident from my own knowledge and inquiries, that Reliable Construction Limited has not done any Gabion basket or river training works of that magnitude or at all in this State or elsewhere to even qualify under the assessment as substantially responsive. Therefore, there has either been a false declaration made in their forms or unlawful and unfair intervention by someone of influence on their behalf.” (p. 1 of Objection Letter)
By letter dated 8th March 2019, the Chief Engineer Mr. Alistair Campbell responded to Bally and Bally acknowledging their letter and saying, among other things:“…we engaged the consultant of record, IBI Group, to conduct a further review of the experience of the recommended Contractor, Reliable Construction Services Ltd. (RCSL), in the areas of gabion basket works and river training works. The result of this further investigation confirmed the previous conclusion of the consultant (embodied in the Tender Evaluation Report) and by extension, the MTW. The decision of the MTW to award a contract to Reliable Construction Services Ltd. therefore remains unchanged.”
Meanwhile the CDB, having received a copy of the Letter of Objection, was conducting its own investigation. And several weeks later, by letter dated May 23, 2019, the Vice-President of Operation of the CDB, Monica La Bennett responded to Bally and Bally saying: “We are writing to advise you that the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has conducted a thorough review of the procurement process to award the above-referenced contract. As a result of this review, CDB has declared misprocurement, in accordance with Paragraph 1.13 of CDB’s Guidelines for Procurement (January 2006), and will not be financing this contract. All inquiries related to this matter should be referred to the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.” That was pretty much all that was said in the letter. It was copied to Mr. Edmond Jackson, Director General of Finance and Planning and head of the Tenders Board.
On 27th June 2019, the Chief Engineer in the Ministry of Transport and Works, wrote to all seven tenderers as follows: “As a result of a complaint received from an unsuccessful bidder on the Contract for the River Defense Works at Yarabaqua, 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 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.”
That letter was copied to several relevant people including two from the CBD. The letters were made public shortly thereafter and the matter became a major topic of public discussion, starting with the NDP’s New Times programme and taken up by other radio programs and the print and electronic media. Prime Minister Gonsalves and other government and ULP personnel spoke publicly in response. Then, On 22nd July 2019 the Government issued a written two-part statement on the matter. The first part of the Statement was prepared by the Director General of Finance and Planning, Mr. Edmond Jackson and basically set out the process for awarding the tender and comments generally about the tendering process in SVG. It also sought to relieve the government of blame or any taint of corruption. Part two of the statement was signed by Prime Minister Gonsalves and spoke about “The Way Forward”. It stated that the project would go ahead unchanged with Reliable Construction Ltd continuing the work , only now to be funded by the government, not the CDB.
Fraud Against the CDB
It should be evident to all by now that what we are talking about here is the most recent example of the corruption by the ULP regime, and I want to set out the basic proposition that is simple and clear. It is clear, despite all the protestations and long, drawn-out attempts at explanations by Dr Gonsalves and his acolytes, that there was fraudulent misrepresentation in the tendering process for the project, resulting in what was essentially a fraud against the CDB. The CDB was made aware of the issue, the CDB investigated the issue and the CDB acted to recover its money and preserve its good name.
So far, that is clear, and that is known. But there is some useful background information that everyone needs to know to understand the nature of the corrupt intent of this ULP regime.
First, let me talk a bit about the Caribbean Development Bank. The CDB is a financing institution that was established in 1970 to act as a development bank for Caribbean countries. Its mission is to “reduce inequality and halve the incidence of extreme poverty by the end of 2025, through supporting inclusive and sustainable growth and promoting good governance.”