Former Premier and Finance Minister Dr D Orlando Smith has refuted claims that the tender process for the cruise pier project lacked transparency.
When Dr Smith appeared before the Commission of Inquiry
) recently, he was questioned about criticism that suggested the controversial project’s expedited tender process from the Finance Ministry during his tenure lacked transparency and fairness.
It was further suggested that the length of time allowed for the process was inadequate and that the provisions in his government’s invitation for contract bids mirrored the previously accepted proposals from the Tortola Port Partners (TPP). According to criticisms, this created an unfair advantage.
Dr Smith denied the criticisms.
In the first instance, he told the COI
that he was unaware that the invitation for expressions of interest mirrored the previously accepted proposal.
And according to Dr Smith, his Financial Secretary (FS) at the time, Neil Smith, engaged two firms, who he said were experienced in matters of contract law, to properly advised him on the matter.
“That was Baker & McKenzie and PricewaterhouseCoopers, who actually advised him or were advising him how to go about this, and they were — you know, they gave him all the advice necessary, and he followed that advice and went out to tender,” Dr Smith said.
He added: “I think that the time period for expressions of interest was adequate. There was at least two weeks it was adequate.”
However, Dr Smith was told that the former financial secretary had conceded to the COI
that the time period could have been longer.
The former FS’s view was that it should have been at least six to eight weeks.
Dr Smith rebutted that the bid process was separated in several phases — including a design and presentation phase — so this made the reduced timeframe acceptable.