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Former OUR head: Regulator has no role in 381MW project bidding process

Published:Thursday | May 1, 2014 | 12:54 PM

Jovan Johnson, Gleaner Writer



KINGSTON, Jamaica:

Former head of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) Winston Hay, says the regulator should never have been involved in the selection of the bidder for the 381 megaWatt energy project to be undertaken in Jamaica.




Hay, who headed the OUR from 1996 to 2002, says based on his understanding of the OUR Act, the regulator has no role in any procurement process.



His comments come amid increasing debate over the role of the OUR in the selection of Energy World International for the 381 megaWatt energy project in Jamaica.



The OUR-led process for the 381 megaWatt energy project that ended in EWI’s selection last year, is under international scrutiny after the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) rejected a request for funding by the EWI.



The IDB says it could not fund the project because it is concerned about the procurement process that resulted in EWI’s selection as preferred bidder.



According to the former OUR director general, the bidding process should have been left with the Government or an appointed body.



The OUR had hired international consultant Mott McDonald to evaluate the four proposals submitted to provide 381 megawatts of electricity at low cost to Jamaica.

 

Meanwhile, Hay says he supports the Energy Minister’s recent statements indicating a desire to separate the procurement process from the regulator.



In a report to Parliament last September the Office of the Contractor General, OCG, recommended that EWI be disqualified from the bidding process because Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell acted improperly when he facilitated the company’s late inclusion.



The OCG said the improper intervention of the energy minister, and the acceptance of the proposal by the OUR, was unfair and compromised the integrity of the process.



However, both the OUR and the Energy Minister rejected the OCG’s findings.



Before the OCG’s report, there were various calls from private sector and civil society groups for the bidding process to be scrapped to because of alleged irregularities.



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