Thursday, 14 June 2012 02:30
By caribarena staff reporter
During a session of Parliament, when the Motion of No-Confidence should have been debated, the ruling party released some additional documents relating to the Power Plant. While these are not nearly all the documents that the public deserves to see, it’s a start.
However, it seems that every single document contains more and more problems.
One such document is the Operation and Maintenance Agreement, signed by Mr. Clarvis Joseph, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA); Ambassador David Shoul; representative for Beijing Construction (BCEG) Mr. Zhao Mai; and a Chinese Embassy official.
This document describes the operation and maintenance services that BCEG provides to APUA. It describes how BCEG handles all the maintenance services, trains APUA staff, and operates the power plant. However, under this Agreement, APUA is responsible to pay the following:
1. Travel Expenses: APUA must purchase one economy airplane ticket annually for every Chinese BCEG employee.
2. Prints and Reproductions: APUA pays for the cost of all prints and reproductions necessary for BCEG to perform contracted services.
3. Computer Services: APUA pays for any computer service charges incurred by BCEG in the performance of contracted services.
4. Materials and Equipment: APUA must pay for any and all equipment, consumables, materials, supplies, spare parts, tools, and miscellaneous supplies procured for the Power Plant. This means that whenever parts have to be replaced for any reason, APUA must foot the bill.
5. Transportation of Materials and Equipment: Not only does APUA pay for the equipment, parts, etc., but APUA must also pay for any and all shipping and transportation charges!
6. Utilities: Water, sewage, telephone, and waste disposal services for the Power Plant are all paid for by APUA.
7. Insurance Expenses: If anything needs to be insured by BCEG, APUA must pay up for the insurance expenses.
8. “Other: All other actual direct costs incurred in connection with the services” are paid by APUA.
So if APUA pays for all these things, you may ask how much is BCEG being paid, and for what?
Well, under this Agreement, BCEG is to be paid US$2 million over two years. And for what? For maintenance Services. APUA, and by extension, the Government, and by extension, the people, are paying BCEG over US$83,400 per month just for their time.
Additionally, the fact that all spare parts, materials and supplies must be paid for by APUA raises the question, what warranty does APUA have? Our limited information, thanks to the Government’s highly classified nature, indicates that there may not be any warranty at all.
But more importantly, Caribarena would like to know why documents are still being withheld from the public. This Operation & Maintenance Agreement specifically references the following reports:
1. Statement of Operation & Maintenance Costs Incurred by Year
2. Environmental, Health, and Safety Operating Plan
4. Annual Management Plan, which includes recommendations on the purchase of Equipment, Spare Parts, Consumables, tools, and other materials and supplies
5. Monthly Management Plan
6. Weekly Summary Reports of Production and Fuel Usage
At a time of such controversy, all of these reports would offer great insight into the Wadadli Power Plant. Releasing these reports would be a step in the right direction towards transparency.
So why does the Government refuse to release any documents? Why are these documents being kept under wraps? What do these, amongst other, documents contain that is so damning that the United Progressive Party (UPP) administration will keep them hidden even under great pressure from the public?
Bharrat Jagdeo, during his tenure as Prime Minister of Guyana, made an agreement with Chinese contractors for the US$150M expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA). This was kept mostly out of the public’s eye at the time.
On July 29, 2011, the World Bank announced the “debarment of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) Limited, and all its subsidiaries, for fraudulent practices under Phase 1 of the Philippines National Roads Improvement and Management Project.” http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/2011/07/29/world-bank-applies-2009-debarment-to-china-communications-construction-company-limited-for-fraud-in-philippines-roads-project.
A manager at a CCCC subsidiary was later sentenced to death for accepting bribes. It was a subsidiary of the same company that received the contract for the Airport in Guyana. All of a sudden, former PM Jagdeo called on the current Prime Minister to review the contract. Jagdeo had previously taken a very defensive stance on the matter, but flipped following the World Bank’s announcement.
These two incidents are not so different. Both involve Chinese sub-contractors and contractors that had been involved in controversies. The contractor that worked in Guyana was debarred by the World Bank for corruption in the Philippines.
The World Bank also advised the East Timor Government not to work with a contractor who subcontracted XMEA for supplying power plant engines, a role they would later play in Antigua and Barbuda.
So what is our Government waiting for? Why is the Government fighting the people on this matter? Why should they need to fight, if they have nothing to hide?
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