THE Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) notes with great concern comments made by the Minister of Housing, Guy Joseph, and National Housing Corporation (NHC) Chairman, Timothy Mangal, during the opening ceremony of the Forestierre Housing Project about the apparent generous financing arrangement and non-payment for work provided by the contractor, Fresh Start.
Fresh Start is the same contractor that was recently awarded a contract purportedly worth $15 million for road works in Micoud South. That contract was awarded by direct award — meaning that there was no public tendering process.
Given the relatively short and unknown business life of Fresh Start, the Saint Lucia Labour Party would like the following questions answered:
1. What are the terms and conditions of the contract between Fresh Start and the National Housing Corporation?
2. What method/s was/were used to award the contract to Fresh Start?
3. What is the exact cost of the contract?
4. If, according to Guy Joseph, the contractor has not been paid “one cent on this project”, are there any interest charges to be paid when the contractor is paid? If so, how much? We ask this question because it is strange for a small contractor like Fresh Start to work for nearly one year without payment. Are there any other considerations or promises related to that deal?
5. Did the government of Saint Lucia provide any special concessions to Fresh Start?
6. Was the Forestierre Housing Project put to public tender considering the implied satisfaction with the terms as suggested by Minister Guy Joseph when he said: “If any contractor in Saint Lucia can offer me a package as good as the package that we receive on this project…..I am ready to engage them tomorrow”. Is the minister empowered to unilaterally award contracts? How did the minister come to that conclusion?
7. Was due diligence performed on Fresh Start?
8. Was the Forestierre Housing Project contract conditioned upon guaranteed future Government contracts to Fresh Start that excludes other local contractors from the process of tendering?
The Saint Lucia Labour Party believes that it is important that these questions are answered by the Minister of Housing, or the Prime Minister, who is ultimately responsible for the financial matters of Saint Lucia.