Mac seeks enquiry of PPM

| 26/06/2011

(CNS): The premier will be asking the governor to open a commission of enquiry to investigate the dispute between contractor Tom Jones International (TJI) and the previous government which led to construction of two high schools being halted in November 2009. McKeeva Bush made the announcement after hours of rancorous debate in Friday’s Finance Committee sitting covering Ministry of Education appropriations for the upcoming financial year. He wants the proposed commission to look into contracts, procurement procedures and any other matters pertaining to the projects “so that the next Finance Committee in 2012 should not have to deal with this matter”.

He added, “This is a legal matter we have now”.

During the heated question-and-answer session concerning the proposed $19.5 million budget for secondary schools in 2011-12, leader of the opposition and former Minister of Education Alden McLaughlin was grilled over financial arrangements put in place to enable TJI to continue the projects.

Of particular concern was a letter of comfort the People’s Progressive Movement government submitted in early 2009 to Scotiabank to assist in setting up a $5 million loan facility for TJI, in part to accommodate change orders in design and construction of John Gray and Clifton Hunter high schools.

In announcing he would be approaching Governor Duncan Taylor, Bush said the PPM did not seek approval for this financial arrangement through the Legislative Assembly and that they bypassed the Central Tenders Committee to get it done quickly “in an attempt to circumvent the procedure of the Finance Committee”.

The premier added that it was a “concern that had to be addressed.”

In chastising McLaughlin, Minister of Education Rolston Anglin said that as long as it was an important project being considered, the PPM government was prepared to do “whatever it takes to move it forward”.

He added, “The previous administration clearly acted in a way outside the principles that underpin the Finance Committee and the Legislative Assembly”.

Insisting that procedures were “perfectly lawful”, McLaughlin said that the PPM government had sought ways to resolve issues “to ensure the construction of these important projects would go forward”.

McLaughlin said it was important that the public had access to the letter of comfort, which didn’t require the government to pay or guarantee any additional funds for the contractor. Towards that end, he said he would obtain the letter of comfort and put it in the public domain.

“I welcome such a commission of enquiry so we can put to an end the political posturing and rhetoric that have been going on for the last two years,” McLaughlin said.

Referring to the former Minister of Education, the former Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts and Tom Jones holding arguments over the matter in the public arena, Bush said dealing with the issue was taking far too much time for him as the Minister of Finance as well as for the Ministry of Education.

Bush said the funds already spent “could have built four high schools and primary schools that would have benefited our children for many years”.

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Category: Politics

Comments (23)

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  1. Forelock says:

    Both the PPM and the UDP are equally to blame for the High Schools debacle.

    The High Schools' construction contracts provide for change orders.

    If every change order were to be referred to the Central Tenders Committee no public project would ever get finished.

    PPM's design brief was more grandiose than it needed to be. The requirement to make several of the buildings into Hurricane Shelters exacerbated the cost. Those costs weren't added to the budget and so the projects were always underfunded from the beginning.

    PPM should have decided to build them sequentially instead of concurrently.

    PPM lost the Project Manager in October 2008 and never replaced him.

    Around March 2009 TJI obtained financing from Scotibank to assist the CIG when its cash flow was impacted by the global recession. Before lending the money Scotiabank required TJI to obtain the "Letter of Comfort" from CIG so that it knew that funds would become available in the financial year commencing July 2009.

    Before the election in May 2009, TJI again offered to complete the Schools sequentially rather than concurrently . PPM wouldn't consider it.

    UDP got rid of the Ministry of Education's Chief Officer soon after it was elected, removing knowledgeable leadership and accountability from the Ministry's civil servants at a critical time for the projects.

    CIG continued to fail to properly administrate the contract, due mostly to the missing Project Manager. The change order process completely broke down. CIG expected TJI to continue building to the changed design without showing any intention to pay for the difference.

    UDP also tried to avoid paying back the short term loan arranged by TJI and eventually, in November 2009, when TJI stopped work for non-payment for the second time, Terminated TJI for default. 

    The rest, as they say, is history.

    • Anonymous says:

      The only party that was making a true effort to finish the schools was Tom Jones International.
      If only the government worked with TJI instead of against them the schools would have been built by now.

      What a shame!

    • Anonymous says:

      For the first time I havbe heard what sounds like an objective account untrammelled by partisan rhetoric. Thank you.

  2. 4th CLASS CITIZEN says:

    Mac is pretty darn sorry and he is no leader.

  3. Anonymous says:

    How can the blind, lead the blind, they will all fall into the ditch.  Birds of a feather flock together.   Show me one of his ministers, who will stand up and be counted, or who has the backbone to say you are wrong?  Not one. It is time to clean house and let's do it now, before it is too late.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Premier keep on holding on when all is said and done you will be clear of these malicious lies.  You are a good man of integrity and the truth will prevail.  Don't listen to those who are trying to bring you and the country down. 

    They want to be Premier but if the people wanted them they would be the Premier and not you so let them all eat dirt.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wow kind of weak retaliation.  Considering Alden pretty much said "ok here's the letter" it's going to be a lot shorter of an inquiry than Mac is subject of.  Not fooling anyone just more of a waste of he countries resouces.  Pretty pathetic.

  6. nauticalone says:

    Obviously a desperate and bullying attempt at distracting.

    It's no surprise the allegations about the Premier. It is however very sad that no one in his Govt. can talk sense to him. But again, no surprise.

    And even more sad that some are suggesting to turn a blind eye!

    "Not only must justice (and ethics) be done….but it must also appear to be done".

    Only then can/will the proper examples be set!

  7. The lone Haranguer says:

    McKeeva just ignore the DNNIBSFM crowd, do the good work turn this ecconomy around and we the people will deal with them in the next elections.

  8. Anonymous says:

    BIG MACK ONLY MADE THIS ANNOUNCEMENT so it would get all the attention and his investigation would not, boy you have to take off your hats to this guy.  Suppose hehad went to school and studied political science

  9. Anonymous says:

    As someone who does not support either party, its surprising how many including Bush are attacking the PPM because the police (not the PPM) are investigating Bush, yet this article where  Bush wants the PPM investigated is relatively quiet in terms of responses!

    • Anonymous says:

      I think that is because (1) most people recognise that this is a political ploy by Bush to distract attention from the police investigation of himself; and (2) we have heard about the schools ad nauseam. Nothing new there.    

    • Geo says:

      Very good observation might it not be termed as bias reporting!!

    • anonymous says:

      quiet in terms of responses………hog breath thats because majority of posters on cns are ppm supporters.

  10. petermilburn says:

    Tit for Tat.Tat for Tit.Here we go again with the stupid childish accusations.Cant both parties stop this BS and TRY to get to the job of running this country?Mac/Alden why dont you both have lunch somewhere and try to talk about things and if neither one or both of you is man enough then get out of the kitchen for obviously the fire is too hot for either one of you to handle.We are fast becoming the laughing stock world wide and I dont want anyone to say thats politics.We dont have to be like every other country.How refreshing it would be to actually be able to work together for the betterment of the country.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe if there were some requirements to qualify for being a leader in Cayman you would weed out the those with a 5th grade mentality? How about a basic aptitude test?  When a car is this broken usually it gets taken to the dump.  Here is gets new tires and a paint job and back on the road it goes with the driver complaining about everything.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like the actions of desperate man. 

  12. Anonymous says:

    It is about time!  Instead of accusing the PPM or UDP, I like see the facts!  Enough with the accusations and tearing down, when both parties should be united for the best interest of the country.

  13. Swine says:

    McKeeva needs to remove the plank in his own eye before he can see the spec in McLaughlins eye.  Bush needs to go sit down!

  14. Dred says:

    Maybe we should have an enquery into the awarding of the MOU to CHEC seeing as this kind of came out of the blue and CHEC already has dirty hands.

    If my memory serves me I also believe they were not the best offer either.

  15. Anonymous says:

    "In announcing he would be approaching Governor Duncan Taylor, Bush said the PPM did not seek approval for this financial arrangement through the Legislative Assembly and that they bypassed the Central Tenders Committee to get it done quickly “in an attempt to circumvent the procedure of the Finance Committee”. '.

    I am staggered by the hyypocrisy of Mr. Bush. If bypassing the Central Tenders committee to get a matter dealt with quickly then virtually every project of Mr. Bush's government should be subject to a Commission of Enquiry. If this request is legitimate why did it take Mr. Bush more than two years to make the request? I suspect the timing has more to do with distracting public attention away from the questionable activities of his government that are presently before us, e.g. the Cohen deal, and the China Harbour Engineering Company neither of which went through the CTC.      

  16. Kent (YODA) McTaggart says:

    Distract us you are trying to do. for what motive I ask you?

  17. Anonymous says:

    “A liar begins with making falsehood appear like truth, and ends with making truth itself appear like falsehood.”
    William Shenstone