A Motion that was piloted in the June 13 House of Assembly sitting by Opposition Member, and First District Representative, Hon. Andrew Fahie to have the Public Account’s Committee’s (PAC) final report on the Cruise Pier project debated was defeated.
The Motion was raised by Hon. Fahie moments after the PAC Report was laid on the table of the House by PAC Chair, Leader of the Opposition and Ninth District Representative, Hon. Ralph T. O’Neal, but was swiftly objected to by Premier Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith, before it was fully read.
In making his objection, Hon. Smith announced that the document was missing a report from a Member of the Committee, and said that it should not have been laid without the report added: “I am disappointed that the matter should be raised because one of the Members of the Public Accounts Committee who wanted to place a minority report in this document was not allowed to place such a report. In fact this report should not be laid in the House without that other report being appended, and Madame Speaker I have difficulties with this,” Hon. Smith stated.
Noting the Premier’s objection, Hon. Fahie asked permission to read his Motion and proceeded to do so. In his Motion Hon. Fahie announced that the Public Accounts Committee’s final report on the Cruiseship Port Development Project has revealed through the committee’s examination clear evidence of the usurping of the duties and responsibilities of the BVI Ports Authority Board. He announced that through evidence presented to the Committee it was confirmed that the Board was not participatory in vital decisions regarding the Cruiseship Development Project which, by law is the Authority’s responsibility.
Hon. Fahie announced that during a specified period between November 2011 and January 2012 the project was not commandeered by the BVI Ports Authority Board and the scope of the project changed during the specified time without consultation from the BVI Ports Authority Board and without a prior cabinet decision.
He said that evidence provided to the PAC revealed that between January and March 2012 proposals for the Cruiseship Port Development Project were received by different government entities and consultants through a process that lacked transparency, and did not involve any form of public tender or open solicitation for this multi-million dollar public project. It was also added that the proposals received were assessed by a government consultant. Further, Hon. Fahie said that proposals were forwarded to the higher authorities for decision without any involvement or input of the BVI Port Authority Board.
Hon. Fahie added that the final PAC Report of the Project documents the concerns that were raised by some of the present and past Board members and public servants about the manner in which the project progressed.
However, he noted that the Members of the Committee from the evidence provided are concerned with the lack of due process, transparency, value for money among other areas in the processes and procedures administered since November 2011 The Motion stated that there was a blatant lack of process where in early 2012 the Ports Authority Board was required to blindly approve 3.1 million dollars to purchase pile while the Board was being excluded from the negotiation and pertinent information regarding the development
It was further stated that the tender process engaged by the Ministry of Finance was found to be lacking in transparency and fairness. In fact, the efficiency of the Ministry of Finance’s procurement process was questioned in the Motion as Hon. Fahie stated: “After more than a year negotiation and assessment resulted in failure to execute a contract for the project and a liability for the BVI Ports Authority in excess of 1.7 million dollar.”
Nine Members voted against the Motion, while three voted for. One member abstained from voting.