Hon. Andrew Fahie, First District Representative and Opposition Member [left] and Hon. Myron Walwyn, Education and Culture Minister
Photo Credit: Provided
Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Andrew Fahie was at a lost for words after being informed that a tendering process was not done for contractors and other service providers, who were hired by the government to construct classrooms for students of the Elmore Stoutt High School and the Bregado Flax Educational Centre.
In response to questions from Hon. Fahie, during a sitting of the House of Assembly yesterday, April 20, Minister of Education, Hon. Myron Walwyn stated that the tendering process was waived by Cabinet. He said a shortlisting method was adopted, where persons were picked from a list compiled by the government.
According to the Protocols for Effective Financial Management, that should govern all financial transactions to be made by government, the tenet that speaks to tendering states that any goods and services that exceed $100,000, are expected to go through a tendering process.
In defense, Hon. Walwyn said, “While it is not standard practice for Cabinet to waive the tendering process, because of the time period of the project, along with the wait for the finalization of the budget, the normal tendering process was waived and a shortlisting process was produced.”
Without the use of a tendering process, the government may be subjected to pay exaggerated amounts of money, expressed Hon. Fahie.
“I’m not against any company or any contract. I understand the expediency of the project, given the stage we are at to get the rooms ready for the children, but my only point that I continue to make is given the far off time that the projects were given, coming into fruition, certain things could’ve been in place probably, and even cheaper, but we do not know, we cannot know unless the tendering process was used.”
Hon. Fahie went on to question the Minister's response regarding the timing of the project, where he indicated that sufficient time was indeed provided to execute the process.
“A project, whether predate or under date, a need is a need. Three years the project was known. All I’m asking is that a project that was envisioned since three years ago, all the necessary works should’ve been done.”
Hon. Fahie added, “I remember very clearly when the Minister came in with his statement that they were going for the extra year [in high school]. All I’m saying is that it is clear you would’ve needed classrooms, clear you needed all these things. Why the tendering process wasn’t started, given that all these things would’ve been needed, seeing they were announced from early.”
According to the Minister, to date, on two classroom buildings being constructed at the Elmore Stoutt High School, the government has already expended $340,690.55 on building A and $362,379.55 on building B, in addition to over $300,000 for purchase costs and other expenses.
He noted that each building requires in excess of over $400,000 for them to be completed.
As it relates to the Bregado Flax Educational Centre, Hon. Walwyn stated that a new primary school will be built to separate the juniors from the seniors, adding that the project will see an overall costs of $382,553.35