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Opposition leader Romeo questions MDC procurement practises

by B. Roach :

Donaldson Romeo, Opposition Leader, Montserrat

Donaldson Romeo, Opposition Leader, Montserrat

While The Montserrat Reporter (TMR) and other members of the Montserrat media were asking the Hon. Premier Meade questions regarding procurement, and specifically actions of the Montserrat Development Corporation (MDC) in the procurement or lack thereof regarding the construction of four shops at Little Bay, the leader of the opposition Hon. Donaldson Romeo was busy with an investigation of his own. (see: http://www.themontserratreporter.com/premier-misfires-on-procurement-gom-loses-appeal-in-court/)

That led him to write to His Excellency Governor Davis and the MDC board expressing concern that there are, “indications that MDC is acting as its own Contractor, and has apparently not held a tendering process under the applicable SRO 11 of 2012 (in particular paragraphs 19(1) and (2)).

The media had brought to the attention of the Premier that the MDC may have been acting in contravention of the Procurement Rules, as appears briefly below.

SRO 11, 2012, Paragraphs 19(1) and (2): “Procurement by corporations and certain other bodies

19.  (1)  A corporations or other body in which the controlling interest is vested in the Crown may conduct procurement proceedings according to its own  rules  or  regulations,  provided  that  those  rules  and  regulations  are approved by the Public Procurement Board.

(2)  Despite  sub regulation  (1),  if  the  rules  or  regulations  of  the corporation or other public body conflict materially with these Regulations, these Regulations shall prevail.”

Romeo also notes in his letter to the MDC board SRO 11 of 2012, on single source procurement: Single-source procurement”

“23. A procuring entity may engage in single-source procurement if—

(a) the goods or construction is available only from a particular supplier, or a particular supplier has exclusive rights with respect to the goods or construction, and no reasonable alternative or substitute exists;

(b) the services, by reason of their highly complex or specialized nature, are available from only one source;

(c) owing to a public emergency or national disaster, there is an urgent need for a goods, service or construction, and it is impractical to use the prescribed methods of procurement because of the time involved in using those methods . . .”

Construction of first shop in progress

Construction of first shop in progress

He then refers the board to DfID Business Case regarding MDC funding 2012-13: “GoM & MDC procurement” where it says that “DFID will be stipulating the importance of open and transparent procurement procedures that deliver VFM (Value for Money) and drive down costs in the project MoU.”

“The GoM will undertake the procurement of all goods and services under this arrangement and will perform all procurement in accordance with GoM’s procurement rules, guidelines and procedures. This includes use of a Procurement Board, chaired by the Financial Secretary and including DFID representation. The current threshold of open competition is EC$100,000 (approx £24,000). All procurement below this threshold will be reviewed and approved by the MDC Board . . . Since all procurement will be undertaken by GoM/MDC, standard DFID/EU rules do not apply, nevertheless, DFID will be stipulating the importance of open and transparent procurement procedures that deliver VFM and drive down costs in the project MoU.”

In his letter, the opposition leader argues: “A competitive bidding process, as the DfID Business Case points out, is one of the best ways to assure cost effectiveness and transparency.  Unless it can be proven otherwise in this instance, I call on the MDC Chairman and Board to bring its present arrangement for the construction at the Little Bay Fisherman’s Village in line with the applicable procurement regulations (SRO 11 of 2012) to which MDC is legally and contractually bound.”

There is the claim that the MDC acting as its own contractor has employed workers mainly belonging to one MDC official and use the official’s construction trucks to transport material.

There is also the rule which requires, that such government entity conducting its own procurement process must do so under the Central tender board procurement rules. It requires the board to obtain permission to do so from the central procurement board and by directive from the Minister of Finance who, “may only give directions to the procuring entity, the Public Procurement Board or the Departmental Tenders Committee prior to the deadline for submission of tenders.”

This suggests that the entity must have sought tenders for the project some time before their own request to act.

Then, in the letter to His Excellency, the Legislative Assembly member noted that there are three members who serve on the MDC board serving on the five member procurement board. He calls on the Governor who makes the appointment to help resolve his concerns regarding the procurement issue with the MDC.

He tells the Governor: “…there seems to be two of its Board Members, Mrs. Angella Greenaway and Mr. Kenneth Scotland, who sit on the Procurement Board. In addition, Mr Cox, a senior officer of the MDC sits on the Procurement Board (note the attached). This seems to be a majority of the Procurement Board’s five members, or at any rate a highly influential group coming from a single institution that necessarily falls under the Procurement Board for projects.”

There have been several complaints prior and continuing regarding procurement issues on Montserrat. This was noted in this year’s February UK Aide Memoire on Montserrat Budgetary aid discussions”2013/14, where it is stated: “A number of procurement and contract management issues arose in year which significantly affected the delivery of both capital projects and government services.  There appears to be problems with (i) the adequacy of the procurement regulations; (ii) the lack of procurement and contract management guidelines; and, (iii) limited technical expertise in GoM resulting in misinterpretation of the existing regulations as evidenced by delays to Lookout School, (see the court matter) and the A1 road upgrade, (which saw the suspension of funding by DFID).

Up to press time Mr. Romeo reported he had not received a response from either the Governor or MDC Board, but following the press conference where the issue was first raised, there have been reports of meetings. The MP had also reported that officials from the MDC had told him that they were operating in the interests of cutting costs by carrying out the project themselves.

 

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

by B. Roach :

Donaldson Romeo, Opposition Leader, Montserrat

Donaldson Romeo, Opposition Leader, Montserrat

While The Montserrat Reporter (TMR) and other members of the Montserrat media were asking the Hon. Premier Meade questions regarding procurement, and specifically actions of the Montserrat Development Corporation (MDC) in the procurement or lack thereof regarding the construction of four shops at Little Bay, the leader of the opposition Hon. Donaldson Romeo was busy with an investigation of his own. (see: http://www.themontserratreporter.com/premier-misfires-on-procurement-gom-loses-appeal-in-court/)

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That led him to write to His Excellency Governor Davis and the MDC board expressing concern that there are, “indications that MDC is acting as its own Contractor, and has apparently not held a tendering process under the applicable SRO 11 of 2012 (in particular paragraphs 19(1) and (2)).

The media had brought to the attention of the Premier that the MDC may have been acting in contravention of the Procurement Rules, as appears briefly below.

SRO 11, 2012, Paragraphs 19(1) and (2): “Procurement by corporations and certain other bodies

19.  (1)  A corporations or other body in which the controlling interest is vested in the Crown may conduct procurement proceedings according to its own  rules  or  regulations,  provided  that  those  rules  and  regulations  are approved by the Public Procurement Board.

(2)  Despite  sub regulation  (1),  if  the  rules  or  regulations  of  the corporation or other public body conflict materially with these Regulations, these Regulations shall prevail.”

Romeo also notes in his letter to the MDC board SRO 11 of 2012, on single source procurement: Single-source procurement”

“23. A procuring entity may engage in single-source procurement if—

(a) the goods or construction is available only from a particular supplier, or a particular supplier has exclusive rights with respect to the goods or construction, and no reasonable alternative or substitute exists;

(b) the services, by reason of their highly complex or specialized nature, are available from only one source;

(c) owing to a public emergency or national disaster, there is an urgent need for a goods, service or construction, and it is impractical to use the prescribed methods of procurement because of the time involved in using those methods . . .”

Construction of first shop in progress

Construction of first shop in progress

He then refers the board to DfID Business Case regarding MDC funding 2012-13: “GoM & MDC procurement” where it says that “DFID will be stipulating the importance of open and transparent procurement procedures that deliver VFM (Value for Money) and drive down costs in the project MoU.”

“The GoM will undertake the procurement of all goods and services under this arrangement and will perform all procurement in accordance with GoM’s procurement rules, guidelines and procedures. This includes use of a Procurement Board, chaired by the Financial Secretary and including DFID representation. The current threshold of open competition is EC$100,000 (approx £24,000). All procurement below this threshold will be reviewed and approved by the MDC Board . . . Since all procurement will be undertaken by GoM/MDC, standard DFID/EU rules do not apply, nevertheless, DFID will be stipulating the importance of open and transparent procurement procedures that deliver VFM and drive down costs in the project MoU.”

In his letter, the opposition leader argues: “A competitive bidding process, as the DfID Business Case points out, is one of the best ways to assure cost effectiveness and transparency.  Unless it can be proven otherwise in this instance, I call on the MDC Chairman and Board to bring its present arrangement for the construction at the Little Bay Fisherman’s Village in line with the applicable procurement regulations (SRO 11 of 2012) to which MDC is legally and contractually bound.”

There is the claim that the MDC acting as its own contractor has employed workers mainly belonging to one MDC official and use the official’s construction trucks to transport material.

There is also the rule which requires, that such government entity conducting its own procurement process must do so under the Central tender board procurement rules. It requires the board to obtain permission to do so from the central procurement board and by directive from the Minister of Finance who, “may only give directions to the procuring entity, the Public Procurement Board or the Departmental Tenders Committee prior to the deadline for submission of tenders.”

This suggests that the entity must have sought tenders for the project some time before their own request to act.

Then, in the letter to His Excellency, the Legislative Assembly member noted that there are three members who serve on the MDC board serving on the five member procurement board. He calls on the Governor who makes the appointment to help resolve his concerns regarding the procurement issue with the MDC.

He tells the Governor: “…there seems to be two of its Board Members, Mrs. Angella Greenaway and Mr. Kenneth Scotland, who sit on the Procurement Board. In addition, Mr Cox, a senior officer of the MDC sits on the Procurement Board (note the attached). This seems to be a majority of the Procurement Board’s five members, or at any rate a highly influential group coming from a single institution that necessarily falls under the Procurement Board for projects.”

There have been several complaints prior and continuing regarding procurement issues on Montserrat. This was noted in this year’s February UK Aide Memoire on Montserrat Budgetary aid discussions”2013/14, where it is stated: “A number of procurement and contract management issues arose in year which significantly affected the delivery of both capital projects and government services.  There appears to be problems with (i) the adequacy of the procurement regulations; (ii) the lack of procurement and contract management guidelines; and, (iii) limited technical expertise in GoM resulting in misinterpretation of the existing regulations as evidenced by delays to Lookout School, (see the court matter) and the A1 road upgrade, (which saw the suspension of funding by DFID).

Up to press time Mr. Romeo reported he had not received a response from either the Governor or MDC Board, but following the press conference where the issue was first raised, there have been reports of meetings. The MP had also reported that officials from the MDC had told him that they were operating in the interests of cutting costs by carrying out the project themselves.