Mon | Sep 25, 2017

‘Indecent Solicitation’ - Building professionals, advocates, urge Gov’t to reject unsolicited proposals!

Published:Tuesday | May 9, 2017 | 5:10 AMErica Virtue
Carol Narcisse
Douglas Stiebel
Carvel Stewart
Carl Chen
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Local construction industry professionals have urged the Government to stop accepting "unsolicited proposals" from developers for large projects in Jamaica, saying that it is a recipe for corruption.

Retired government town planner and fellow of the Jamaica Institute of Architects (JIA) Carl Chen said that across Commonwealth countries, it is "unprofessional and not allowed and will be considered and construed professional malpractice if I solicit jobs from any agency or ministry of government".

"We do not send proposals unrequested. It's the same thing in the United Kingdom and Australia. That's why we have international conventions, published by the Union of International Architects, and they outline the discipline and courtesies of each professional body and the reciprocity that goes with it, ... " Chen told a Gleaner Editors' Forum last week.

 

PATTERN OF IGNORANCE

 

Civil society advocate Carol Narcisse said that there was a pattern of ignoring best practices by our governments.

"I want you to recognise that there is a pattern. Think of the 360 Megawatt energy project. You will recall that there were similar questions. Everybody had to jump up and down and say first of all, "Who are all these people. Whey dem come from? Who are all these fly-by-night people here'?" Narcisse explained.

Government received two unsolicited proposals to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal and power plant and to supply LNG from its own gas fields. Investigations by the Office of the Contractor General put paid to the efforts and the process and it is yet to start. The project crossed the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) administration led by Bruce Golding and the Simpson Miller administration of 2011-2016.

Continuing, Narcisse said: "You keep claiming that they come to you with unsolicited proposals. So there is a pattern of unsolicited proposals, which our leaders appear to love. You enter into MOUs with these unsolicited contractors, and you lock up the MOUs and you say that the MOUs have proprietary information, you cannot give it to the public, so MOUs have now become the way to bypass the official contracting process and the official policies," Narcisse posited.

She said that there was a plethora of persons who are "coming unsolicited" and the numbers seem to be growing exponentially and it was a "way for corruption to thrive, and it was the current guise under all across the globe were entering into conversations outside of the proper procedures and outside the look of contractors' general. And they are, all across the world, known to be the way in which monies under the table, paper bag worth of money, are passed."

Narcisse was supported by Douglas Stiebel, chairman of Stiebel and Company, who said that it was ironic that the pattern started with the advent of procurement guidelines and unsolicited proposals was a way to bypass such guidelines.

... Someone has to pay for it

Carvel Stewart, past president of the Incorporated Masterbuilders Association said, the argument that design work has been done for free is a farce as "nobody does anything for free. Someone has to pay for it."

He said that the only way someone or an entity will do design work for free, is if they have been given that assurance that they have been contracted.

In the case of China, he said, the Government has allowed itself to fall in too deep, and the taxpayers of the country will have to pay when the chest-beating exercise of politicians has been done.

"China is the only bilateral lender that insisted that their contractor come with the contract," saidStewart, who represented the Incorporated Masterbuilders Association at the forum.

"Everybody else lends you money. You are free to bid for the job, including to contractors from the lender country. China is the only one, that is allowed to bring their contractor on the loan," he stated.