Sat | Apr 4, 2020

Tenants say no to retender of White Marl business complex

Published:Tuesday | February 11, 2020 | 12:28 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Alrick Robinson of Integrated Chemicals said tenants of the White Marl Small Business Industrial Complex fear that LASCO will have a leg-up if the divestment bid is retendered.
Alrick Robinson of Integrated Chemicals said tenants of the White Marl Small Business Industrial Complex fear that LASCO will have a leg-up if the divestment bid is retendered.

Tenants at the White Marl Small Business Industrial Complex in St Catherine are resisting a recommendation for a retendering of bids after the National Integrity Commission (NIC) reportedly halted the hotly debated divestment of the facility.

The small-business owners argue that they should be given first right of refusal because they were at a competitive disadvantage to co-bidder LASCO, which is owned by tycoon Lascelles Chin.

The tenants have restarted their campaign for the Factories Corporation (FCJ), owner of the complex, to abandon its efforts to sell the property on the open market, saying that the decision vindicated their original claim that the initial bid process was not transparent.

Alrick Robinson, of Integrated Chemicals, told The Gleaner that the tenants are calling for Sammy’s Shoes, a more than 40-year tenant at the premises, to be given first bite, backed by capitalisation from other businesses there.

“We (Sammy’s) should be given the first right of refusal.

“His tender was not accepted, and from what we can see, the tender was the best tender,” Robinson claimed, without providing details of the offer.

Major manufacturing outfit LASCO also entered a bid, The Gleaner understands.

“If they retender, then LASCO would know where they should position themselves and we can’t tender or compete with LASCO,” Robinson said.

Executive director of the Integrity Commission, Colonel Daniel Pryce, said that questions relating to the latest developments would be better suited for the FCJ.

“Ask the FCJ. They are the ones who manage that,” Pryce said, before asking The Gleaner to give him a callback on Tuesday.

People’s National Party’s (PNP) Shadow Minister of Industry, Competitiveness and Global Logistics, Anthony Hylton, called for due consideration to be given to long-standing tenants who were seeking to purchase the property.

In a press statement yesterday, the PNP said that Hylton, along with spokesperson Imani Duncan-Price, championed the claim of the long-standing tenants at the facility, before Parliament and the Integrity Commission, arguing that the process was biased, lacked transparency, and was contrary to the Government’s stated policy on divesting such assets.

However, in welcoming the decision of the Integrity Commission, the opposition spokesperson said that he was not completely happy.

“The commission’s decision to halt the flawed bid process does not go far enough, as the FCJ is allowed to retender the facility for divestment in circumstances in which details of the original bidding process have been aired publicly, prejudicing the position of the long-standing tenants,” he said.

“Impartial justice requires that the FCJ further halt its attempt to retender the facility and instead invite the only other bidder to negotiate fair and acceptable terms for the divestment of this strategically located asset.”

The shadow minister further expressed the hope that the divestment of the complex to the long-standing tenants would take place, consistent with what he said was settled MSME policy across administrations.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com