TRANSPARENCY IS NOT EVIDENT
There are so many major undertakings, of great importance to Jamaica at this time, yet the issue is murky and opaque, and transparent view is denied. There are frustrated decisions, and one wonders whether care is taken to present to produce accurate plans.
I can think of three major projects among others: 1. The implementation of adequate power supplies 2. The debate and decision of the Goat Island project. 3. The IMF requirements and our comparison data, as to how we compare to target.
In the first case, matters commenced with some kind of order, as the Government through the appropriate Ministry, sought prices from three sources; Azurest Cambridge, EWI (Energy World International), and a consortium, Energize Jamaica Corp, an affiliate of the well known Tankweld Group.
Azurest came in with the best bid, but they could not satisfy the initial 1% required of $3.7 million being a security deposit. This incident is mystifying: How can a Company engaged in the business of project engineering, which gave quotations and a bid for a major project , be awarded the contract, and cannot find at the last minute the needed deposit to start implementation of the project?
Yet, how could the Ministry and OUR not have realized that the bidder was associated to an insolvent party? And therefore how did the Ministry exercise due diligence? Did it ensure the validity of the bidder’s finances before requesting a price?. Mr. Paulwell needs to make explanations. Strange, for due diligence is always preached to the private sector, yet the Government does not seem to practice it.
Just to-day we further hear that OUR’s incorrect timing in expiration of bids was part of the problem; ( Gleaner 14/10/13). The whole process of selection has been compromised, opening up a situation that may lead to suits being filed against OUR and the Government.
The second matter is the Goat Island Project. Is it coming or going? Was it ever a reality in the first place or a figment of someone’s oriental imagination? Up to date we have not seen any confirmation from the other Party, the Chinese investors; we have had no comment from China’s Ambassador to affirm or not.
Wasn’t the power plant part of the project? If so, they are going in two different directions at the same time.
Many steps have to take place before any construction begins; Environmental matters need to be resolved before any plans can be implemented. This may take time, or once decided, run concurrently with the project. But when will all begin, where is the project plan to be located, how long will it take?. Are we not trying to catch the opening of the Nicaraguan channel? What about the expanded Panama Canal, did we not factor this into plans as well?
The third mystery is the IMF standing. At one point we hear from the Minister (Finance) that we did not meet the first target, then we hear that we did. “Dog newspaper” says a private citizen loaned them some money to make up the deficiency. This explains, but does not clarify. What are the IMF requirements? When are the due dates? Does the minister anticipate further trials?
This is the one of the reasons for the continued devaluation of the Jamaican Dollar! I recall the IMF required local production to step up to at least local demand; this has not been done, the bauxite plants are not yet back in full production, so our productivity is down. This lack of emphasis in productivity will increase inflation, which in turn will increasingly result in devaluation of the Jamaican dollar, taking it beyond $110 per USD.