Ed minister denies owing TJI

| 12/11/2009

(CNS): Following the news today (Thursday 12 November) that Tom Jones International has stopped work on the two government high school development projects again, the Ministry of Education has denied that it is behind on any payments due to the general contractor. Education Minister Rolston Anglin said that the ministry was advised by TJI that it was stopping work as it did not believe that the Cayman Islands government had sufficient funds to complete the projects. However, Anglin said that, as outlined in the budget, government now has the money to meet its obligations for these projects and is surprised by TJI’s actions.

“We have also budgeted contingency funds, in the event that these are necessary to cover any claims made by TJI,” Anglin added. “Sufficient provision has therefore been made for the completion of the projects, and this ongoing commitment has been communicated to TJI. Further, all certified payments due to TJI have been made, and there are currently no outstanding amounts due.”

The minster said that government had also been negotiating in good faith with TJI to provide significant additional funding to assist it and its main sub-contractor in making advance payments. As recently as Tuesday (10 November), he said, the government had been advised by TJI that the documentation to support this additional funding was agreed in principle.

Despite all of this, the general contractor announced his intention yesterday to down tools on both sites, and a number of sub-contractors working on the two projects contacted CNS today to warn of the stoppage.

The minster said that as the government was finalising the latest agreement, it believed it would signal a productive way forward and ensure that the projects would be successfully completed, and so TJI’s action was unexpected.

“We are therefore surprised by TJI’s change in position and its apparent intention to now stop work. I reiterate, however, that the Cayman Islands government is committed to the completion of the schools projects. We are currently considering all our options in our determination to move forward, and if necessary will pursue all remedies available,” Anglin added.

Although no indication was made about what those remedies might be, both school projects are considerably advanced, making it difficult for the government to seek new contractors. With government seeking to reduce the current bill for the schools, moving contractors at such a late stage would be exceptionally costly.

The government does now have a full time project manager in place who has been tasked with resolving the disputed issues over the outstanding claims made by TJI on change orders, which amount to around CI$15million .A spokesperson for the Education Ministry said that David Benoit’s involvement had been expressly welcomed by TJI and he was charting the way forward for both projects. Benoit had been working on the most recent agreement to assist TJI through the provision of additional interim funding for advance payments. The ministry said that it believed Benoit’s work would have established a clear roadmap for the successful completion of both projects. 

CNS has contacted TJI to find out why they have stopped work but the general contractor said it had no comment at this time.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Rolston, we know that you are up to the task of sorting this out as best you can, and the Cayman Islands should stand together, and firmly behind you.

    Good luck.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The schools have been and will always have its plethora of problems as no due diligence was done on the contractor by the previous Government.

    When the entire fiasco started early 2009, there should have been an immediate review if TJI and its policies. In addition, Government should have mandated that Immigration and Labour conduct an investigation into who was really on the sites. But this wasnt done as the result would have been mind boggling in that there is an abundance of "conflicts of interest" at those work sites.

    It is sad when a Government can qualify and quantify giving a contract thats under bid by some 40+ million. Makes one wonder what the under-lying reason for that was.

  3. Caymanians for Transparency says:


    It was highly unlikely that TOM JONES would ever be able to build these two schools for $45 million less than Arch & Godfrey and McAlpine…that is the true situation here.

    I predict that TJI will go belly up on these jobs and the additional cost to finish will be approximately, you guessed it, $45-50M! Rolston, get ready to look for more money to finish them now….it is just a matter of time.

    Let us hope the Caymanian partners will pay up when the time comes. The Jones will be long gone!!!

    I think the Auditor General will now have something to really investigate. If not, he will be showing his true political underwear. Let us see.

  4. what a mess says:

    Not untill we have real laws in place with real teeth, to deal with corruption…and real consequences for incompetence (fines and/or jail time)..to ensure real transparency and accountability (Real good Governance) will we see those in power become prudent with their decisions. And we will not ever see any of that if we go Independent!

    In fact much of the independence rhetoric we now hear seems motivated by political leaders not wanting to be bothered with being transparent and accountable…they seem to just want to do whatever they want…and Mac (though not the only one) is a glaring example of this.

    Right now, politicians can do whatever they want and the consequence is minimal if any. Even if they get voted out after two terms they have already recieved business interests (kickbacks) and full lifetime govt. pensions (which we the people get to pay for, for the rest of their lives).

    But let a teenager experiment with ganja…and these same leaders say "get them and put them in jail where they belong". Pot calling kettle black!

    There are sooooooooo many examples of Govt. waste now for decades, yet no one really heald accountable in any meaningful way. And no poltical leader is leading the cause to bring about any real solution to these ongoing abuses.

    A conspracy…to protect themselves??

    Tings na looking well!


  5. Anonymous says:

    Is it true that Boatswain’s Beach employees have not been paid either?

  6. K-man to da bone says:

    HA HA – Thats funny! Anonymous – Fri, 11/13/2009 – 00.55  and  Anonymous – Fri, 11/13/2009 – 6.59  are one and the same! What a joke!

    • Anonymous says:

      Their style of writing is pretty different, references to Govt vs. government also make it unlikely – unless they are super paranoid. The only thing they have in common is good sense!

      • Anonymous says:

        Its you, that is why you can say that, but all "3" of you dont have any sense BUT long pockets!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Original projected construction cost of 2 new schools as per winning TJI tender …$120m

    Cost of a full time qualified Ministry Project Manager (not recruited until now)….$0.15m  per annum salary

    Disputed costs arising from post-contract well-meaning client-requested Change Order requests (but no Ministry Project Manager to read the contract and prior-advise on  the $$,$$$,$$$ implications) …$16m

    Estimated financial depth of quicksand Govt now in because no qualified Project Manager from project inception….$16m?

    Estimated strength of legal position TJI now in on $16m disputed Change Order costs….High

    Reason TJIthreatening to down tools & leave site… watertight contractual legal case?

    Luck we wish the newly appointed Ministry Project Manager, because he’ll need it now the horse has long since bolted…100%.

    Apology/sackings of Ministry staff as a $$,$$$,$$$ result of Ministry decision not to appoint a qualified Project Manager from day 1….???

    Number of red herring excuses Govt now releasing as rather weak leverage on the $16m Change Order dispute….???





    • Anonymous says:

      I was almost painful to read this submission and it leaves me frustrated and baffled as to how there could be no oversight by the government in power over such a project? How many times do the people of the Cayman Islands need to be ill treated by their political representatives before they throw them out of office for incompetence?

      It is like the insurance the country took out and after the hurricane learned we weren’t covered because of the fine print.

      • Anonymous says:

        It all boils down to ne thing "INCOMPETENCE" from all involved.

        Members of the Government and relevant Ministry personell take everything for granted because it is much easier to turn a blind eye, do nothing and let the tax paying public pick up the bill.

        What we see here is a fine example of what the Public has been saying about the Government and civil service for so long.

    • K-man to da bone says:

      What a whole pile of Bull Crock – you are blinded to the REAL truth by your own pocket!

    • Anonymous says:

      Government accounts?

      Last figures released were June 30th.  What’s the surplus/(deficit) from June 30th – Sept 30th or Oct 31st looking like?  And, how does that compare to Plan?

      • Anonymous says:

        we’re still waiting for the audited 2005 accounts so don’t even trust what they tell you even if they were on time!

        I think I can sum it up without the need for official accounts. It’s friggin dire. The government again has buggered up their accounting and overestimated their revenues, as the originals were based on growth not contraction of the finance sector. The government’s various jollies to USA and now the world tour have meant gross overspending. In short we’re in the dogdoo worse and sinking every day. 

  8. Anonymous says:

    Let the schools be run and built purely by Caymanians so all the unemployed project managers, engineers, surveyors, estimators, accountants, site managers and skilled trademan can get back to work.

    • Anonymous says:

      Great idea, but all qualified Caymanians are employed. Those who aren’t are either unwilling  to work or not qualified for any of the above positions. You can’t just be an accountant, surveyor or site manager with a caymanian passport and a high school leavers certificate. As with anywhere in the world you need to have the correct qualifications, skills and experience.

      I do agree that Caymanians should definately get first pick at the jobs they are suitable for, instead of importing cheap foreign labour, but for a lot of those higher end jobs there is a massive lack of local qualified individuals.


      • Anonymous says:

        It is not always that there are no qualified Caymanians but for a myriad of not always noble reasons foreign labour is often preferred by many of the employers, who incidentally are Caymanian. I believe It was the former minister, Alden McLaughlin, who disclosed on the radio that Dale and Rex Crighton are the Caymanian parterns/owners of Tom Jones and I think it is time that they step up to the plate as the supposedly majority shareholders and tell their fellow Caymanians what exactly is going on with this project!!

    • Great idea says:

      A great idea if you want to double the price and have a delivery date of 2016.

  9. Joe Average says:

    And now class, we will all say the school Prayer.

    "They say the best things in life are free,                                                         But you can give it to the birds and the bees,                                                     I want money"                                                                                                        Frankly, I never liked Tom Jone’s singing.  Is it too early for these schools to have bake sales?

  10. Bananaas says:

    Yet another disaster takes place whilst the hedge fund expert tours the world. If indeed he changes the national flag as suggested, can we please have the bananaas on it. At least people will recognize us for what we are.

  11. anonymous says: