Walwyn’s Professional Integrity Under Question

BVI Platinum News
October 10, 2018 8:38 am AST
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum
The Auditor General (AG), Sonia Webster has recommended that individuals responsible for the over costing and loss of economies incurred on the Elmore Stoutt High School Perimeter Wall Project be made accountable.

This, among other recommendations in the Special Audit Report into the project has attracted the ire of Minister of Education and Culture, Hon. Myron Walwyn, who made the report public on Tuesday, October 9, saying that it calls his professional integrity into question.

The AG has called for the Public Works Department to do an assessment and provide the completion cost of the project, in addition to recommending that a single contractor complete the remaining works.

Additionally, “Contractors who received full payment without completion of the works should be required to complete or be held ineligible for further government works,” the report stated.

In highlighting his dissatisfaction with several aspects of the Special Report, Minister Walwyn related that while his Ministry had responded to concerns in the draft report, and provided justification and explanation of the discrepancies that were noted, these were not taken into account in the preparation of the final report.

Instead, he lamented that the final report is basically a duplicate of the draft. He dubbed this as “disrespectful” to disregard the comments provided by the officers of his Ministry, saying that the AG’s Office’s functioning should not be an “adversarial process.”

“These concerns are in no way personal,” he stated, “It is to protect the professional integrity of myself and my colleagues who I hold in the highest professional esteem.”

He went on to say that at no point of the audit process was “the independent project manager, the accounting officer, the permanent secretary or the assistant secretary” called to the project site to explain the changes in the project—plan, cost or otherwise.

“Something is very wrong,” he stated, adding that, "I will be fine however the dice rolls.”

However, he is concerned about the impact of this report on the officers attached to his Ministry.

In justifying the increased cost of the project—a topic of controversy—which received an approved budget of $828,004.10 but to date has incurred a cost of $914,971—a figure provided by Hon. Walwyn—the Minister stated that it was a result of technicalities in the execution of the project.

He related that the initial estimate was given with the view of the project being completed by one contractor; however, the wall was divided into 22 feet segments and allocated to different contractors to get it done faster, which attracted an increase in cost as over 80 contractors were used.

Additionally, Minister Walwyn divulged that due to a difference in the slope of the land on which the school stands and the surrounding boundaries, the height of the wall had to be increased from the initial eight feet.
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