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OPM distances itself from contract fiasco

Saturday, December 21, 2013    

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THE Government has moved to distance itself from blame for awarding a contract to construct housing projects, valued at over $733 million, to a contractor whose registration has been revoked by the National Contracts Commission (NCC) for several breaches.

The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), in a press release Thursday, gave timelines for the process it followed in awarding the contract, and the subsequent announcement by the minister responsible for information, Senator Sandrea Falconer, at a Post Cabinet briefing at Jamaica House on Wednesday.

The OPM said that its release was responding to questions which have bee raised about the award of contracts to Cenitech Engineering Solutions Limited, which has been de-registered as a Works Grades 1 - 4 contractor by the NCC.

The OPM said that the contracts were awarded to Cenitech, following an endorsement by the NCC. Cabinet approved the recommendation for the award of the two contracts at its meeting on December 2, then met on December 16, and ratified those decisions.

"During this meeting, Cabinet was never made aware that there was an issue with Cenitech Engineering Solutions," the release said.

It added that it was on December 16, following another meeting, that the Cabinet secretary received a letter, dated December 13, from the NCC, indicating that, based on the results of an investigation carried out by the Contractor General into the operation and registration of Cenitech Engineering Solutions Limited, the NCC, at a meeting on December 11, took the decision to revoke the registration of Cenitech Engineering as a Works Grades 1-4 contractor with immediate effect.

Cenitech had been advised of the revocation of its registration with the NCC, and the Cabinet Office was requested to issue a circular to all permanent secretaries and heads of entities, informing them of the revocation of Cenitech's registration.

The OPM also stated that when Senator Falconer reported the matter to the press at the Jamaica House Media Briefing on Wednesday, she had not been advised that there was an issue with Cenitech.

The Observer reported Thursday that sugar workers in St Thomas are to benefit from housing projects valued at over $733 million. Cabinet approved two contracts for the construction of houses in Stokes Hall and Hampton Court, under the Barracks Relocation Project segment of the Sugar Transformation Programme.

The report said that, in making the announcement Senator Falconer said that the contracts for the infrastructure works had already been signed, with work progressing satisfactorily and nearing completion on four of the sites. She also confirmed that the works were being undertaken by CeniTech, over a 10-month period.

The Barracks Relocation project is being carried out in the four sugar-producing parishes of Westmoreland, St Thomas, Clarendon, and Trelawny. Under the programme, seven new communities will be established for families of sugar workers, who currently live in barrack-type communities.

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