Opposition Leader Julian Fraser has indicated that elected leaders are 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.
Speaking as a telephone guest on Da Morning Braff programme on Tola Radio this week, Fraser was asked by panellist Dameon Percival to explain why residents are subjected to poor social infrastructure.
In response, Fraser said the measures put in place since the completion of the Commission of Inquiry
) have made it difficult for elected leaders to serve residents even though money has been set aside to complete certain projects.
“The funding is appropriated for projects but you can’t get the projects completed. Right now, I’m trying to get a project executed for a year now and if it’s completed by the end of the year, I doubt the contractor will get paid. The system right now is so cumbersome,” Fraser stated.
“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,” the Opposition Leader added.
Since the Commission of Inquiry
recommended that the BVI implement reforms to improve governance, residents have been complaining that it seems elected representatives have stopped spending money on public infrastructure and are instead spending money on governance measures ordered by the UK.
Fraser said residents should be aware that money is there to deliver projects needed by the community. But with the new tendering systems the government has to use to issue contracts, projects that would ordinarily be completed in a month are now taking much longer.
“This is a new way brought on by the criticisms that have been placed on the territory. Everyone is afraid to do anything. Those petty contracts were put in place to expedite and for efficiency. You can’t do that anymore,” Fraser said. He also said going through a formal tendering process when issuing contracts facilitates transparency but not efficiency.
The contract issuing process was one of the major issues identified by the COI
. Elected leaders were told to stop issuing tender waivers and instead opt for a formal tendering process to facilitate transparency.
Since then, the UK government has expressed that it believes the BVI is still indiscriminately issuing tender waivers for government contracts. However, elected leaders have disputed this claim.