Sun | Jan 23, 2022

Montague mum on CAP contract issue

Published:Saturday | November 20, 2021 | 12:10 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer

Mining Minister Robert Montague has maintained his silence on the controversial Clarendon Alumina Production (CAP) contract issue that has seen board chairman Norman Reid resign in protest.

Approached by The Gleaner on Friday at a function in Ocho Rios, St Ann, Montague indicated that he was instructed by Prime Minister Andrew Holness not to speak publicly on the issue.

Holness, in describing media reports concerning the contract issue as “troubling”, on Thursday noted that CAP, which co-owns Jamalco alumina refinery with General Alumina Jamaica Ltd, was engaged in a project to incorporate Jamalco "to better secure and manage its value".

He instructed Montague to provide a report on the situation at CAP, “particularly on the incorporation process and the contract in question”.

The prime minister also directed Montague to tell the board to put the contract in question on hold until the Cabinet reviews Montague's report.

No timeline has been given for the submission of Montague's report.

Reports suggest that Reid resigned in protest, allegedly against the renewal of a contract with an overseas company, CCPA Capital Partners, valued at several million dollars, with the contract being renewed every six months over a two-year period.

The contract controversy comes just over a year after the Government granted CAP a US$136.7 million loan to help the company pay off some of its debts and improve its equity value.

'Unacceptable'

In the meantime, Phillip Paulwell, opposition spokesman on energy and mining, in a release, has called on Montague to urgently investigate what it terms “the unacceptable revolving six monthly award of contracts by Clarendon Alumina Production (CAP) to CCPA Capital Partners for more than J$30 million so far to 'corporatise' CAP.”

“The minister needs to state what procurement method was used in the contracting with CCPA, what were the deliverables and over what period of time. The minister must also provide the various evaluation reports generated with each renewal cycle of this dubious contract,” Paulwell is demanding.

Paulwell said the fact that the board chairman resigned to protect his integrity also raises issues about the conduct of the board, which are deeply troubling.

“It is evident that there are deep divisions within the board over the matter, especially whether CAP was realising value for money. This is untenable and warrants a full investigation,” the Opposition spokesman stated, adding that he will be pressing for answers at next Tuesday's parliamentary sitting.

carl.gilchrist@gleanerjm.com