Cabinet has approved the establishment of an Independent Oversight Panel (IOP) to expand the framework for the monitoring of contracts.
Principal and Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Professor Gordon Shirley will chair the body, and the other members are Retired Territory Senior Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Everton McDonald; and businessman the Hon. R. Danny Williams.
Minster of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Omar Davies made the disclosure during the sitting of the House of Representatives on Tuesday (April 24), where he also informed that Cabinet has given the go ahead for the continuation of three projects – North-South link of Highway 2000, the Gordon Cay Container Transshipment Hub, and the Fort Augusta Terminal.
He noted that the panel will provide the necessary oversight of the three projects, where the method of unsolicited proposals is being utilised, to ensure value for money, transparency and accountability.
He told the House that the Office of the Contractor General (OCG) has consistently raised issue with and had objected to the method of procurement being utilised for the projects.
The OCG has also expressed it was not in agreement with the direct negotiations taking place with investors in relation to the undertaking, and contended that unsolicited proposals should be open to competitive tender.
Dr. Davies maintained however, that the Government of Jamaica Procurement Handbook 2010 provides for “engaging investors through the direct negotiations process, once an initial determination of the merit of the proposals has been undertaken”.
He said that the setting up of the IOP will also ensure that the methodologies provided for in the Procurement Procedures are upheld in the implementation and management of the projects.
“In reporting to me, it is expected that the IOP will, alongside the respective established authorities/bodies, strengthen the oversight capacity and capabilities of the Ministry and its agencies in the implementation of large scale infrastructural development projects,” he stated.
The Transport Minister said that the IOP will consult with the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), the Ministry of Finance and Planning, and any other stakeholder on critical matters, “but is decidedly independent to facilitate greater levels of transparency”.
The Parliament will receive regular updates on the activities of the IOP and on the projects that it will monitor and evaluate during the course of its life.
For his part, Opposition Spokesperson on Transport and Works, Karl Samuda noted that the oversight committee consists of “men of high reputation and commitment” and would serve the process in a productive way.
An unsolicited proposal is a proposal submitted by the offering company for the purpose of obtaining a contract with the government, and that is not in response to a Request For Proposal (RFP), broad agency announcement, or any other government-initiated solicitation or programme.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter