PM Harris claims fears of tendering procedures unfounded

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Basseterre, St. Kitts – The prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris, has indicated that all tender procedures have been followed regarding the construction of the new Basseterre High School (BHS), after some posed questions as to why overseas contractors were offered the job.

Questioned at his last press conference regarding the tender process in relation to the BHS, Harris noted that all the contracts for capital projects that have been awarded were subjected to all the rules related to procurement that have been followed by his administration and will always be followed.

“We have always, for the record, have tendering and invited more than one person,” he said. “Indeed, the financial secretary and the deputy financial secretary would say we often ask for at least three tenders, particularly if the capital project is of any magnitude, and this is in the DNA of the government, that wherever public monies are to be spent, we are assured that we are getting value for money and where [people] are given contracts and they fail to perform those contracts would be aborted, that is the norm.”

He further indicated that a committee of qualified individuals from both the private and public sector was established and is responsible for making recommendations as to who will be awarded government contracts.

“In fact, we have a committee that basically makes recommendations in relation to any work assignment,” he added. “A committee comprising [people] from the private sector, from public works, from the Office of the Prime Minister under whose remit that that matter basically falls, and they relate to the relevant people in the Ministry of Finance. Everything is [an] open book.”

The prime minister, in mentioning the Hero Park that is also currently under construction, noted that multiple contractors have been employed on that project and is of a result of proper procurement.

“Indeed, with respect to the national park, you have a multiplicity of contractors out there providing services and that has come as a result of the proper procurement practice,” he said. “We were able to then choose those who were offering services with the best expectations for the project.”

He continued, “We have two contractors doing some of the physical works, two of them happen to hail from Conaree, but they went through a competition with others and there is at least one other contractor coming from elsewhere in the country, but there was about six or seven people who had participated and it so happened that the two from Conaree emerged and the one from Mansion emerged as the best offerings in terms of their services,” he said. “The other important services that are being provided, for example the plants, again, [was] a process open where [people] would have submitted.”

Speaking to the second cruise pier set to be constructed, Harris indicated that the procurement was done locally, but was expanded to avoid any doubts.

“There were multiple contenders to do work on the cruise pier,” he said. “In fact, in relation to the cruise pier, not only were the proper procedures followed domestically, but for the avoidance of any doubt, we engaged one of the most reputable international accounting firms to bring transparency to the process and to manage that process and to evaluate the recommendations that were put forward by the board.”

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