Beautiful Virgin Islands

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2022

Everything at RDA transparent and above board — McMaster

Everything at RDA transparent and above board — McMaster

The Recovery & Development Agency (RDA) has sought to set the record straight regarding the costs for some of its projects after concerns were raised recently over whether value for money was being achieved by the entity.

After the RDA awarded a contract for the Jost Van Dyke (JVD) Primary School reconstruction project late last month for more than $4 million, Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley was asked about some of the astronomical project sums awarded to contractors by the agency.

Premier Wheatley assured reporters at the time that officials of the RDA would be made available for explanations to the public.

Following that promise, CEO of the RDA, Anthony McMaster, appeared in a video on the entity’s social media pages and said everything that was being done at the Agency was done in a procedural manner that allows for checks and balances.

“Despite the conversations about the potential cost at the moment, I want us to not stress about the cost, but stress about what is the end product that is expected,” McMaster said of the JVD project.

He explained that while a bag of flour may cost about $2.50 on Tortola, once it reaches one of the sister islands, the cost may escalate to as much is $3.50 or more.

“Just the concept of development on the sister islands is very much more expensive than on Tortola itself,” McMaster related.

He continued: “Sometimes I know we hear figures, and we don’t think about everything that’s aligned with those figures, and where the figures came from. But what I can assure you, is that at the RDA, everything is done in a process where it’s transparent and above board.”

The CEO explained that all of the agency’s processes are laid out and noted that each process goes through a step-by-step check and balance.

No figures from the sky


McMaster, further said all of the RDA’s projects are competitively bid.

“So it is not a case where anyone from the RDA or the RDA board, or even the government can say ‘well, this is the contractor that we’re going to use for this particular project’. No, at the RDA all of our projects are tendered, they are publicly tendered, the tenders are submitted, they are publicly opened and all of the figures are stated right there in the public domain so each person who has an interest can know what the bids were that were actually received,” the CEO said.

McMaster said figures for RDA projects are not just numbers that someone ‘pulled out of the sky’.

“These contractors are competing for jobs, so when the figures come in, we feel assured at the RDA, that we are in fact, getting value for money, because in addition to what the contractors produce, the consultants that we work with, they also have to produce estimates,” he stated.

New opportunities available


In the meantime, McMaster reminded the public that the end product of the reconstruction on Jost Van Dyke will not simply be used for the primary school in the area. He said it will be a multipurpose educational facility.

“Most of us know it as the Jost Van Dyke Primary School, but it’s not just classrooms, it’s a lot more than classrooms,” McMaster said.

He noted that there will be facilities for community meetings as well as a space for a resource centre. With the technology available at the location, McMaster said even persons doing programmes at the H Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) on Tortola would be able to benefit from the facility.

McMaster added that the project opens a whole gamut of new opportunities for residents of the JVD community.

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