One of the biggest disagreements Premier Dr Wheatley identified was the governor’s claim that his ministerial Cabinet is still issuing tender waivers for government contracts with “insufficient justification”.
Responding to the governor’s review in press conference today, Dr Wheatley noted that there are three main procurement options the government is able to employ as it relates to issuing contracts — open tendering, restricted tendering, and single-source procurement.
Single-source procurement effectively happens when government gets products and/or services from only one supplier, even if it has other options. And according to Dr Wheatley, Governor Rankin incorrectly conflated ‘tender waivers’ with ‘single-source procurement’ in his quarterly review that was sent to the UK.
“Single-source procurement is not the equivalent of a tender waiver. The legislation (the Procurement Act) clearly defines the instances where it is not necessary to go through an open tender. For example, contracts for emergencies or contracts for national security matters do not have to go through open tendering,” said the Premier who suggested that those were the instances within which his government employed single-source procurement in the last few months.
“[In previous years], tender waivers were being done for any type of circumstance. Ministers and Cabinet had unlimited discretion as it pertains to waiving the tender process. That is no longer the case,” the Premier added.
Other areas the Premier said his government disagreed with was the governor’s claim that “resistance” was encountered with broadening membership of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC).
Dr Wheatley told members of the media today that he was unsure why this matter has caused concern.
“My ministerial colleagues and I had the duty to express the concerns of our constituents about the make-up of the [CRC] membership,” Wheatley explained. “The concerns are serious enough that they should have been brought to the attention of the governor. This is the constitution that will govern the lives of Virgin Islanders and they must have a voice in the process through their representatives. Despite the voicing of the people’s concern — which has been described, unfortunately, as ‘resistance’ — the commission was approved in Cabinet and the House of Assembly with broad and strong representation of the society,” Dr Wheatley stated.
He also indicated that he’s since had an opportunity to engage the governor “to properly understand the source of his concerns”.
“After a thorough discussion, I believe there is a genuine misunderstanding on the particular issues which we, unfortunately, did not have an opportunity discuss and clarify before the publication of the governor’s report,” Premier Wheatley said.