Governor still silent on schools request

| 13/07/2011

(CNS): Although the premier has called for a royal commission of enquiry into the high schools contract, the governor’s office has still not made a decision on the request. Duncan Taylor is the one who must decide if a commission is warranted and his office has been pondering the issue since McKeeva Bush revealed to the Legislative Assembly that he wanted a probe into the previous administration’s handling of the projects. During the Finance Committee deliberations over allocations to the education and employment ministry last month Bush said he wants the proposed commission to look into contracts, procurement procedures and any other matters pertaining to the projects.

The governor’s office told CNS that Duncan Taylor had received a request from the premier but he would be the one to make the decision regarding the enquiry and that he was giving it careful consideration.

The opposition leader and former minister of education has said he welcomed the request as the procedures were “perfectly lawful” and issues questioned by the premier such as the loan guarantee given by the then PPM government were about resolving matters to ensure the projects stayed on track.  “I welcome such a commission of enquiry so we can put to an end the political posturing and rhetoric that has been going on for the last two years,” McLaughlin said.

The issue of the two high school projects has continued to play a prominent part in the political landscape for several years. The controversy has been fuelled since Tom Jones International (TJI) walked off the job at the end of 2009 as a result of a dispute with the Cayman government that is currently in the courts, and because of perception that the schools were too expensive.

The former minister has always stated that the tender was an open and transparent process and that TJI won the tender as a result of submitting the lowest bid.

Those close to the issue have said that this was the fundamental problem in that the contractor’s bid was unrealistically low. Industry players at the time said that low bids should always raise eyebrows as construction industry profit margins are quite small. If a contractor offers a bid as little as 10% below others, experts said that was an indication that he plans to complete the project at a loss, which is an unlikely scenario. TJI’s winning bid was said to be some 35% lower than the next bidder.

Ian Pairaudeau, General Manager of McAlpine Limited, said at the time that he believed it would be hard for TJI to complete the two schools for the price offered but if it did the government was getting a good deal.

Although the exact amounts spent on the schools to date is hard to pin down, the original bids which were awarded in 2008 were for $58.9 million to construct the John Gray High School in George Town, and a $56.7 million to construct the Clifton Hunter High School in Frank Sound.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    He also needs to investigate the "School Canteens" mafia – from primary through the high schools!

    Kids pay top dollar for crappy food – IF they can even find any before lunchtime is over!

    But nobody is speakign up for them, right.


  2. Anonymous says:

    Just finish the schools and turn them into boarding schools.  Advertise internationally.  Hire high caliber teachers and allow the government to make money.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Actually, Governer just silent!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    This request was only done to try and make alden look bad too, he know that his investigation was going public soon., therefore he wanted  somebody else to have some of the attention.  alden if you know that you did nothing wrong,you do not have to worry.  But if you did wrong you have to be dealt with like the premier should be dealt with. no man is an island. but the premier lrtter is very FISHY BO BO

  5. nauticalone says:

    Obvious Tit for Tat Political Ploy by Mac.

    The Governor will most suredly see this for what it really is.

    It's more than clear where the "investigations" and/or "Commissions of Enquiry" need to be directed!

  6. anonymous says:

    One thing at a time governor. Deal with McKeeva bush FIRST.

    He's the one dictating what he determines to do WITHOUT  our consent.

    Alden and the PPM are not perfect but I do not for one minute believe they have the same kind of reputation of their integrity being questioned as the premier and his behind the scenes dealings. So good governor, no need to waste your precious crown time on investigating people who don't need to be investigaed.

    CONCENTRATE ON MCKEEVA BUSH, that's our wish

    He's the one who told you "Governor You're on my territory now" during your inaugeration. Very disrespectful.

    Show this dictator who's territory he's on.

    We're sick of this man just simply order him to resign. Use your executive powers and order him to resign there is a preponderance of counts and reasons why he should  be forced to resign and ordered by the governor or FCO to resign from the office of Premier of the Cayman Islands. We did not elect a government with a leader to be our dictator. We did not. So bless us all with his removal.

    • Anonymous says:

      Excellent points made for sure…! It's interesting to me that His McBush-ness is asking for a 'royal commission'? What??? he wants 'Liz' to help? That doesn't sound like the typical 'I'm Caymanian and in charge of 100 square miles of the Earths' surface, thus I know better than whoever runs the other 57 million square miles….Looser.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why not Alden and Kurt???  Why try to make this look like it is just a McKeeva things. The Schools started under Alden and Kurt's tenure. Tom Jones complaints were really against the PPM government.

      • Anonymous says:

        Because McKeeva is using Commissions of Enquiry as a political ploy to distract attention. Why did it take him two years and a criminal of investigation of himself before he suddenly realised that the schools contract should be subject to a Commission of Enquiry? I hope the Governor will see it for what it is.   

        The UDP govt. breached the contract with Tom Jones. That is why the govt. was sued.   

      • Libertarian says:

        See CayCompass


        Posted on Thursday 26th November, 2009.  Paper states:    

        General contractor Tom Jones International walked off the construction sites for Clifton Hunter and John Gray High Schools on 13 November, claiming government had breached the contracts, partially because it refused to provide evidence it could pay for the work. On Thursday, government issued notices of termination of both contracts, claiming Tom Jones had breached the agreements.

        The notice of termination letters, which were signed by Ministry of Education Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues, asserted that Tom Jones had “no contractual basis for the work stoppage” and that the contractor’s actions in “terminating its staff, abandoning the project site, and failing to perform the work pursuant to the terms of the contract, are substantial breaches of the contract”.

        “Having now completed its investigations into TJI’s conduct over the past 10 days, the owner has determined that TJI has effectively abandoned the project and has no genuine interest in re–mobilising in order to perform the work and meet its obligations to the owner under the contracts.”

        Nearly identical letters were sent by the Ministry of Education with respect to both high schools.