Innotech Equipment Inc. offered to give up two years’ billings for the Rapid Response Units community tanks stationed in water-scarce areas of Barbados if the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) would pay up on its outstanding debts for 2017 and 2018.
The company’s offer was made five months ago in a letter dated August 24, 2018 when its Director Anthony DaSilva also proposed that the new deal take effect at the end of that month once the BWA agreed. The letter of compromise was addressed to the BWA Chairman Leodean Worrell and copied to the BWA General Manager Keithroy Halliday and former Communications specialist Joy-ann Haigh.
Innotech, now wrapped in a row with Government over the State’s outstanding debt, would have been giving up close to $1.2 million which represented $51,000 per month for at least 24 months of the initial five-year contract approved under the former Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government.
A copy of the letter obtained by Barbados TODAY and which had as its subject “RRU Community Tanks” also put forward two other conditions of the offer in addition to the requirement that all outstanding invoices for 2017 and 2018 would be paid “as soon as the BWA’s cashflow permits”.
The letter also stipulated: “BWA will take possession of the Community Tanks currently remaining out in the field and the community tanks and the associated equipment remains the property of Innotech Equipment Inc.
A source close to the situation said this “olive branch” was extended to the BWA in good faith and was the company extending its hand to save the authority and the taxpayers at least some costs.
In fact, the August letter stated: “Further to communication between the BWA and Halliday/Da Silva and Worrell, we write to confirm our willingness to put the above captioned in abeyance and to forego any future monthly billings due under the contract as at the end of August 2018.”
On Tuesday Innotech, in an apparent attempt to force the authority’s hand on the debt payment, started to remove the community tanks. BWA Chairman Worrell expressed shock at the development and noted that the BWA was “not given a courtesy call,” while adding that several attempts were made to bring Innotech to the negotiation table in recent times but to no avail.
When asked today to explain her claim that Innotech was unwilling to negotiate against what appears to be evidence to the contrary, Worrell explained that a correspondence conveying a demand was not negotiating.
“You are telling me that you are giving me the tanks that BWA paid $51,000 per month for since 2015 but we must pay up to date when the BWA does not have the money. So that is not a negotiation,” she told Barbados TODAY. She explained that it was imperative that Innotech come to negotiation table to rationalize aspects of the contract.
She further noted that among the questions raised about the contract was the reasoning behind ordering 2000-gallon tanks, which were double the cost of the 1000-gallon tank. The tank size posed further logistical problems as the BWA only has one super tanker capable of transporting more than 1200 gallons and this meant that water trucks needed to make two trips to fill one tank. In addition, clarification was needed on certain clauses within the contract as it pertains to exclusivity, she said.
“A lot of it did not make sense so we needed to have a sit down. The price difference between a 2000-gallon tank and 1000 gallon is tremendous. There is the fine print that we also need to go through such as the issue of exclusivity because we were essentially being held hostage. So from the time they took up the tanks that in law is repudiation because I would prefer that the water tanks belong to the BWA,” said Worrell.
Barbados TODAY also contacted Innotech chairman, Anthony Da Silva, who said “The Innotech Group of Companies has operations and companies in Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and in Dominica. It is not the habit of Innotech, in the past and it will not be in the present or the future, to comment in the public domain or privately on the confidential affairs between itself and its clients.”
Barbados TODAY understands that there have been attempts today to reach some solution to the impasse between the BWA and the equipment company.
Chairman Worrell confirmed that talks had started with Innotech on all contracts which she said will be renegotiated, particularly the one involving the tanks.
“Discussions commenced yesterday with the Innotech team and the external negotiators appointed by the Government. They are progressing quite well. We have not yet got a full report, so at this point in time I cannot say exactly where it is. But there are indeed contracts that have to be renegotiated…this one in particular is one that needs to be renegotiated,” the BWA chair said.