Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler is standing behind his administration’s record on procurement and award of state contracts.
Responding to Opposition claims that the process was not transparent and small contractors were being put at a disadvantage, Sincker told the House of Assembly last evening that the lack of openness with Government procurement does not mean unethical or illegal behaviour.
In fact, he said, the system in Barbados is one of the most complete processes in spite of bureaucratic challenges.
“This Government’s record . . . on procurement can withstand any scrutiny in relation to the award of contracts and I stand by that because most of them, if not all, have to come through the Ministry of Finance anyway and I can tell you that there is no surreptitious activities happening in relation to Government procurement . . . ,” Sinckler said.
He went on to deny claims by political activist David Comissiong and others that Government has agreed to purchase unsold homes at the multi-million dollar residential housing development at Coverley in Christ Church.
“It is that type of dangerous foolishness that gives people the impression that people are in Government making sweetheart deals with people. I want to say that nothing can be further from the truth in relation to that project at Coverley. It is simply not true,” he said.
“The Government is not buying any houses up there; we are not interested in buying any. We have not entered into any agreement to buy any houses that are not sold and those are the facts. There are people in Barbados who like to create their own straw men and then knock them down because it gives them the opportunity to be heard.
“The NHC has entered into an arrangement where they have provided the land, the developer is spending the company’s money building those houses and selling them and the corporation gets a percentage of the [sale] on each house plus the sale of the land,” he added.
Of the estimated 1,026 houses constructed at Coverley, only about 400 have been sold.
Sinckler said this is commendable given the state of the economy.
He also disclosed that Government is pushing ahead with plans to introduce a bill for the establishment of a National Procurement Authority before yearend.
According to the finance minister, this is part of Government’s fiduciary responsibility to make the process of procurement more efficient and better targeted.