WHAT ELEPHANT? Consultant dismisses construction corruption allegations

WHAT ELEPHANT? Consultant dismisses construction corruption allegations
(FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — After a construction official accused the government of nepotism in its contractor selections, the president of a local consultancy company replied: “Good contractors always have work.”

During an Organization for Responsible Governance panel, Debbie Deal warned about construction-related corruption referring to it as an elephant in the room. She claimed that contractors were made to prepare time-consuming bids for projects, only for contracts to be eventually awarded to entities with inside knowledge or the right connections.

However, Veritas Consultant Ltd president and managing director John-Michael Clarke told Eyewitness News that in his 20 years of working with the government, he has never witnessed favoritism when it came to assigning contracts for government projects.

“Now, some other people may have some other experiences, but you know I’ve never been told to compile a list of PLP or FNM contractors for a particular job.”

“I would be lying if I said that it doesn’t happen, but… good contractors always have work to do and that’s how I put it,” Clarke said.

In addressing the narrative, the President told Eyewitness News that things aren’t always what they seem.

“They (the government) find the most competent contractors to do the work. That’s what governments want, they want contractors that finish projects.

“Well, it usually comes down to the company on a lot of the bigger government projects. There are certain criteria that contractors have to generally possess. You need the ability to provide performance on providing insurances, you have to prove you have the capacity to actually do the work.”

“Unfortunately, for a very large project, a lot of companies just don’t have the thread of experience, capacity, or depth of experience to qualify to do the work.”

Clarke claimed that contractors are often unaware of bids that are in the government’s portal. He urged contractors to equip themselves with a better understanding of the construction enterprise instead of finding excuses as to why they are unable to participate in government and private bidding.

He alleged that shorcut-taking within construction companies further contributes to applications being denied.

“That is one of the disconnects. People don’t want to pay architectural fees or they try to get a deal when it comes to the design, they don’t get the right specifications, or the right advice, or they don’t have the right professional in place to even direct the contractor with their mistakes or changes on the drawings. When those types of things happen, you’re going to get a product that is less than satisfactory.

“What my advice generally is that if you’re going to do construction, make sure that you are getting jobs on your merit. Not because you are politically aligned. Because when you get jobs on your merit, whether you are politically aligned or not it doesn’t matter,” he advocated.