Third District Representative Julian Fraser has called for the return of the petty contract system in doing business with government; protesting that it’s near elimination has helped to stymie the growth of the economy.
“We need to make sure that we get the petty contract system back up and running. That was taking a lot of stress off the people in this territory,” Fraser said at a debate between political party leaders recently. “You know how much money was circulating in this territory through petty contracts? That has been eliminated almost completely right now.”
According to Fraser, the impact of the changes made to the petty contract system are having visible effects on the BVI’s economy and its people. “It’s not hurricane Irma alone,” he argued. “Those are some of the things that happened. People who are are lauding the Commission of Inquiry
and its report, the impact is being felt now from that. One of those things are the elimination of petty contracts.”
This is not the first time that the veteran politician has protested the revamp of the contract-issuing system. Late last year, Fraser lambasted the new system and complained that elected leaders were finding it difficult to deliver vital projects needed by constituents because of the new tendering requirements brought on by the United Kingdom (UK) to foster transparency within the BVI government
“If you have a project to execute, you have to go through some mini form bidding process instead of issuing a petty contract as it was in the past. The contractors now have to be registered at the Ministry of Finance, it takes forever,” Fraser said previously.
The contract issuing process was one of the major issues identified in the Commission of Inquiry
) report. Elected leaders were told to stop issuing tender waivers and instead opt for a formal tendering process to facilitate transparency after it was discovered that there was massive abuse of the petty contract system.
Fraser is not the only lawmaker to protest the absence of petty contracts though, as National Democratic Party (NDP) Chairman Marlon Penn had also accused the Virgin Islands
Party-led government of circumventing the system to deprive his Eighth District constituents of work.
In the meantime, Fraser said elected officials have to build the courage as leaders to put systems in place that can work and help the BVI’s people. “That’s one of them (petty contracts)” he argued. “If people complain about the way it was done, [then] okay, tell me what about the way it was done that was wrong, and show me another method, how it can be done, and I will follow it.”
“Don’t tell me it has to be eliminated because it’s not good. It was good for our people. Our people just need jobs and opportunities,” he added.