…and Minister-connected contracts
In the real world, ordinary folks use the “smell test” to determine whether something’s “fishy”…i.e. whether there’s something wrong about it. As to exactly WHAT might be wrong, they then proceed to use the “duck test”: if it waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck and swims like a duck, then there’s a very high probably it’s a duck. Using these tests then, let’s examine the cases where two Ministers of the PNC-led coalition Government have been accused of conduct giving rise to conflicts of interest.
Your Eyewitness has already gone over the case of the Minister of Housing’s husband being awarded contracts by the CH&PA, under her jurisdiction. If the head of the CH&PA himself admitted indeed a conflict of interest existed, immediately when informed, then one has to conclude that both the smell test and duck test were satisfied. For the Minister to aver that she didn’t know her husband secured the housing contracts that were awarded, has to strain the credulity of the archetypical “reasonable man”!! No pillow talk??
But for the head of the CH&PA to arrive at his conclusion, meant he was unaware of the said contract. And this signals that there was something going BEYOND fishy here, with officials below him not bringing the matter to his attention. Now these officials can’t have been oblivious to the relationship between their Minister and the contractor, and this means (at best) they bent the rules on their own or at worst, they were instructed to do so by the Minister. Now even if they’d done the dirty on their own to “curry favour” with the Minister, surely they would’ve had to inform her at some point, or have her husband do so more informally. In either event, the Minister’s culpable a misfeasance in public office.
Now for the latest revelation, where the Minister of Communications admitted that her media company did in fact receive a contract from the Energy Department in the Ministry of the Presidency. The Minister said she removed herself from the operations of her company since she became Minister and didn’t even know of the contract. Now this strains your Eyewitness’ credulity: unless she placed her company in a blind trust (which she didn’t) surely at the end of the year, she’d look over the annual performance of her investment. This causes a wrinkling of the nose!
But additionally, there was no public bidding for the contract, since the Ministry of the Presidency said the Minister’s company WAS CALLED about doing the ads. Your Eyewitness’ nose has to be squeezed!!
As to the duck test, if there’s a pattern and practice then it’s misfeasance time, baby!!
…and the Demerara Harbour Bridge
One of the projects the PPP bequeathed to the PNC-led coalition was for a fixed-span bridge across the Demerara River to replace the antique floating one. A location was identified and a local design floated (pun intended!) but the Public Infrastructure Ministry decided to reinvent the wheel. They invited bids for a design; received 2 but scrapped the process. On the instruction of the Tender Board new bids were to be solicited.
Instead, Minister Patterson “sole sourced” the $148 million contract to the Dutch company LievenseCSO, and had it approved by Cabinet causing the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) to investigate how this came to pass. The Report was handed in since August 2018 and showed that the $148 million was taken from the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (Asphalt Plant Accounts). With the wall of silence on the MPI egregiously failing both the smell and duck tests, the Opposition took the matter to SOCU. But the silence only thickened.
Citizens have to hold their noses as the PNC waddles to the polls!!
…and constitutional change
Constitutional change was the AFC’s big thing. But after four years of lassitude, their Committee’s recommendations remain buried in the hapless AG’s Chambers. Without protest!
And now they’re suggesting fast tracking a change to accommodate their dual citizens? Wankers!!