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Auditor General’s report on ESHS wall project very ‘lacking’

Walwyn

Education Minister Myron Walwyn said he is concerned about the operations of the Office of the Auditor General, whose report on the perimeter wall around Elmore Stoutt High School, he said, is vastly deficient and unbalanced.

The Auditor General’s report concluded that the manner in which the project was executed gives the ‘appearance’ that the ministry sought to “avoid procurement requirements that have been established to secure value for money on government projects”.

But, while seeking to defend himself and his ministry, Walwyn commissioned an independent report. He further pointed to inconsistencies in the auditor general’s report on the wall that cost $985,690.86. This cost exceeded the estimated amount of $828,004.10.

The auditor general prepared two reports – a first draft, and a final draft, which was called a ‘special report’. The ministry was able to respond to any concerns that arose in each draft or the report. But, Walwyn noted that the auditor general’s office ignored all his ministry’s explanations when preparing their reports.

Examples of the concerns the auditor general raised in the report. Accompanied are the education ministry’s corresponding responses, which Walwyn said were ignored.

“It cannot be accepted that the auditor general can issue a final report … and totally ignore the responses of the particular ministry” — Walwyn.

Walwyn said the omission of his ministry’s responses from the auditor general’s report on the wall project was egregious, disrespectful, and something that tarnishes the professional integrity of himself and his ministry.

He noted that the auditor general’s special report (the final draft) was exactly the same as the first draft.

“This could lead a bystander to believe that the determination of the final audit was made way in advance of the first draft. And if this is, in fact, the case, it is very, very sad.”

“It cannot be accepted that the auditor general can issue a final report that is very often made a public document, and totally ignore the responses of the particular ministry that is being audited. When that is the case, the auditor general’s office can write whatever they want to write in an audit report,” said Walwyn, who argued that the report on the wall was devoid of all facts.

Petty contractors caused cost overrun of wall project

Walwyn then noted that the wall project had a cost overrun of a little more than $157,000 because of the petty contracts that were issued for the project.

He said these petty contractors had varying costs for their respective services; even when two different contractors were offering the same service.

“The cost and square footage submitted to Cabinet for the wall was based on the project being carried out by one contractor as a whole. We all know it is highly unlikely that a project of this type in the Virgin Islands would ever be done by one contractor … We [therefore] asked for the work to be done by the petty contract system. This, I will readily admit, was an error by my ministry.”

Roughly 70 contractors were engaged using 15 petty contracts and 64 work orders.

The wall is about 1,562 feet long and about eight to 10 feet high.

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85 Comments

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  1. /////// says:

    What a crock of crap! So since when do you not have to have Trade License and good standing if the job is under 10K. When every other Tom, Dick and Harry has to have documentation of when great, great, great ancestors came over on the first boat. I suppose when you are partners with the powers that be! AND when in the hell did Gov. start paying people for work up front when they owe plenty of workers for work that has been completed for times! Seriously, you need to wheel and come again. I don’t believe this crap for one second. So frustrating and heartbreaking to see the BVI in shambles and the leaders still lying through their teeth and taking the people for fools. The news today is just sickening… this and still pushing for airport!

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    • Learn says:

      Ummm, you clearly never done anything with the government. Once a contract is under $10K, it is considered a petty contract. Petty contracts does not require proof of trade licence, good standings etc. Other forms of these will be things like bush cutting work, painting of buildings, minor repairs etc. You need to wheel and come again with some understanding of how things work.

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      • @Learn says:

        This project was done through the abuse of power and disregard for systems and established financial principles.

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        • Horse Man says:

          Exactly, be careful what you vote for!
          Psychopath Checklist:
          1. Callousness lacks empathy
          2. Cunning and manipulative
          3. Need for stimulation
          4. Grandiose – high estimation of self-importance
          5. Sexually promiscuous
          6. Insincere superficial charm
          7. Frequent pathological liar
          8.Shallow emotions
          9. Risk-taker / Thrill seeker
          10. Impulsive
          11. Irresponsibility
          12. Takes no responsibility for actions
          13. Short-term thinking
          14. Early behaviour problems
          15. Poor behavioral controls
          16. Craving for power
          17. Parasitic lifestyle
          18. Ruthless ambition
          19. No conscience
          20. Lack of remorse or guilt…

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          • Thank God! says:

            Best. Comment. Ever!

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          • @ Horse Man says:

            This list describes a horse,man. Is that you?
            Know thyself,very admirable.

            If not why are you stooping to unsubstantiated personal attacks?
            Get over the rejection.
            Go get help,please.

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          • Joe says:

            A Psychopath, to qualify as such, would also possess Violent and/or Murderous tendencies.

            Mr. Walwyn is hardly that type of person.

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      • But says:

        The big difference this construction. Not cutting bush or painting. There is a big difference in the type of work. Any Tom dock or Harry can build a wall.

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      • /////// says:

        Thank you Learn for enlightening me. I did not know how it worked. However, still does not make Petty Contracts right. The time I worked for the gov., it took months and months to get paid. However, painters were paid up front, seriously.

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      • @ Learn says:

        Petty Contracts always require proof of trade license and good standings.

        Furthermore if you are doing business in the BVI as an independent contractor you MUST have a trade license. At any level. Major Contract, Petty Contract and below. If you don’t, you are breaking the law.

        Oh, and to get a construction trade license you have show that you are competent to do construction work. The report said that people had no licenses.

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    • Rubber Duck says:

      I enquired with several very experienced contractors the price of a similar wall. Block, rebar and cement exactly like this wall is. Same thickness, same height. All said around $10 per square foot.

      Walwyn’s Wall cost over $60 per sq foot.

  2. What? says:

    70 contractors using 15 petty contracts and 64 work orders. No wonder it went wrong, what were all the different jobs? Did they each have to build a few feet.

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    • Welsah says:

      When you give all the work to one person people complain. The man tried to give everybody piece of bread and it’s still a problem?? Welsah

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      • @Welsah says:

        Doing the wrong thing for the “so called” right reasons it is still wrong. This needs a full criminal investigation and should not let the —– Minister bully the police and try to make them afraid to fully investigate this matter.

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        • Welsah says:

          What are you even talking about?? Bully police?? Afraid to investigate??
          First of all, Cabinet, where the Governor and Ministers sit to make decisions, gave approval to waive the tender process and do petty contracts. So where is the illegality in this?

          I’m still trying to figure the whole bullying of police thing. You people say the darnest things.

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          • My Dear says:

            When you read or listen to many comments in the VI, it makes me wonder about the mental capacity of the people, The sad part is that they vote.

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        • Talawah says:

          A full criminal investigation into a cost overrun of 158k! It’s a small sum but my guess the call for that criminal investigation is because it’s the MoE. Will you be calling for similar investigation into TTPP under the mcw? A similar call for 7m/airplane? If that is not a fair or well rounded suggestion then your reason for such a call must be personal?

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          • To talawah says:

            You need to stop this behavior as if —- head is a god. People were paid by government for work not done. People were already paid by government for work not completed. You mean ayo ain’t see nothing wrong with This? SMDH. This illegal. This is wrong and the Minister cannot dedicate the outcome of this matter.

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    • Long says:

      The wall, which was over 1000 feet in length was split up into 22 feet sections so that more contractors were able to benefit. This would also explain the number of contractors that you mentioned.

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      • Rubber Duck says:

        Easier to lose track of 70 x $10,000 than one payment of $700,000 if you wanted people to lose track of where the money went.

  3. PAINT says:

    How can you paint a wall if it is damaged or destroyed? Why is the Government even giving jobs to unlicensed persons for key projects such as this? Is this the reason why the wall didn’t even survive the floods yet alone Irma?

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    • Really?? says:

      This was survived the floods and Hurricane Irma. Are you looking at the same wall or are you someone being asked to write a comment on an issue that you know nothing about. Have a seat please.

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      • To Really?? says:

        It is a shamed what the Minister is trying to do because he’s trying to head off a wrong doing and trying to make it sound right.

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    • @paint says:

      Why such a blatant lie?
      This edifice should be used as an example of how to build. It survived floods and everything Hurricane Irma gave.

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  4. WHAT?!?! says:

    Why was Government using our money as if it is their own? Why does a work such as that need to be spread across 70 contractors????????!!! Tortola is 30 square miles. Were we building the Great Wall of China? And according to the maths…42% of the contractors didn’t have a trade licence…likely have not paid taxes, social security or NHI on their earnings and the earnings of their workmen. A small crack in a foundation will bring it down. Why are we supporting illegality in this country?

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  5. SMDH says:

    Looks like the Minister is preparing for a bomb!! We want to see this report. The Auditor isn’t responsible for your response Mr Minister.

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  6. Iconoclast says:

    The Hon Myron Walwyn, MEC (NDP co-leader) is chatting sh..t. A 1562’ long and 10’ high wall can indeed be constructed easily by one prime contractor. The Hon MEC chose to spread the wealth around, apparently. Here is the info put out by the MEC; it is comical: “Roughly 70 contractors were engaged using 15 petty contracts and 64 work orders.” LoL. The typical process is to award a contract to a prime contractor that in turn hires subcontractors.

    Consequently, if there is an issue with work put in place or being put in place, the owner/contracting officer’s technical rep goes to the prime contractor/contractor’s rep to resolve problem(s). 70 contractors for a likle wall is nuts. Trying to manage 70 contractors is at best challenging to put it mildly; it is like herding cats.

    Furthermore, the Hon Walwyn knows that the Auditor General Report is a Finding of Fact Report. It is not based on spin to rationalize one’s handling of an issue. The Auditor General was right not to include non factual spin, if any, into the report. When we do not like the facts, we often want to sh..t the messenger. Will the Auditor General tenure be tenuous if the NDP is returned to power?

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    • Huh says:

      So you are saying that if an auditor comes to your business and conducts an audit with statements that have misguided information, and they are provided with comments that justifies the information and it is not taken into consideration, that you will just sit back and have that auditor maliciously damage your business?? We really are a special people. An auditor’s job is supposed to be handled with the utmost professionalism, in this case, she failed miserably. Absolutely no work was done on their end. They didn’t even visit the bloody wall for christ’s sake. The report is unbelievable and laughable. It’s sad

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    • Orm.. says:

      She reports directly to the Governor, so them absent or present is neither here or there with the Auditor General please.

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      • Question says:

        So don’t you think that the Auditor General is supposed to atleast communicate with the relevant persons responsible for a project that she is handling??

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        • @Question says:

          Of course persons responsible for the project were reached.

          The minister is upset because his excuses and misstatements were not added to the report.

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  7. LOL says:

    Sounds Like the Minister scared.

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    • Reese says:

      Sounds like he could be considering legal action. I won ‘blame him. VI and its half ash way of doing and saying with no regard for the human casualties is gross.
      I may not be a fan of Myron as possible premier and because of my personal and admittedly bias but
      Gov bureaucracy for the sake of good governance must rise above political shenanigans.

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  8. voter says:

    Jail time

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  9. Good says:

    Glad to see the Minister defending himself on this. There’s so much money being spent across the Territory on projects that aren’t going anywhere but the AG is so focused on one wall? Why is this? Something is not right at all.

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    • To good says:

      Nice try but stop condoning wrong doing because you love the wrong doer.

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    • Really says:

      As far as I know the Auditor General was asked by the Governor to provide a report on the wall…. it’s not that he/she is focused on the wall. They were just doing what they were paid and instructed to do!!!

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  10. Realist says:

    This works out at $631 .00 per foot. And doesn’t look like 10 ft tall. All those people maybe didn’t have trade license but I bet they had a vote which is a more important qualification .

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  11. Voter says:

    Why would the AG not include the comments made by the Ministry? Seems like someone is trying to set up the Minister for a fall and he is not having it.

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    • SMDH says:

      The AG does not have to include spin and excuses in her report.

      Its the Minister’s prerogative to do this on his own time.

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  12. SMDH says:

    This needs a criminal investigation right away.

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  13. Hmmm says:

    Where can the public get a copy of this alarming report? How come only the Minister has a copy of the report?

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  14. Inquiring Minds says:

    How does and Audit team not visit a site with a project manager but provide a cost to details of dimensions that are clearly far from the reality of the actual dimensions?

    How does a Ministry provide comments to a draft audit and not one single comment is taken into consideration for the final report?

    What the heck is a “Special Report”????

    Inquiring Minds would like to know?

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    • Iraqski says:

      Because a copy of every petty contract goes to the Financial Secretary, The Auditor, The Accountant General and the Attorney General. Also, the JD Edwards system has a record of all Ministry transactions in digital format.

      The New Virgin Islands Government

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    • @Inquiring Minds says:

      Don’t think too hard. You might hurt yourself.

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  15. Come on says:

    The police needs to get involve in this matter right away. The Minister is trying to pre-empt & detour the course of justice by coming out ahead of the report being made public. This in itself is illegal.

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  16. Not fair he says says:

    Now that the shoe is on the other foot, the audit report is not done fairly. Set of hypocrites.

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  17. Popcorn says:

    So we all know that the Auditor General is a die hard VIP. And although we would like to believe that she can put her professionalism above politics we are clearly seeing, as has been the case by the way, that her bias cannot hide. Buckle up Auditor General, Myron looks like he’s going to be taking you on a bumpy ride.

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    • @Popcorn says:

      Really? That’s what you got. Empty slander. Last I heard she had done audits on both VIP and NDP projects. Maybe she is a PPP or POP or maybe she is just doing her job.

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  18. lol says:

    myron thrump

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  19. Wendy says:

    Much respect for Myron’s valid efforts regarding this matter.
    Government bureaucracy at all times must be impartial honest,knowledgeable and trustworthy.

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    • To Wendy says:

      Please stop it. Persons like you is who make politicians feel good about their wrong. This project is a total embarrassment and needs a full investigation independent of the Minister. The Minister will say that he’s innocent but what he feels and the truth may be two different things.

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    • SMDH says:

      Yep “impartial honest, knowledgeable and trustworthy”

      That’s why the Minister should stop l****.

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  20. Transparency says:

    They need to make public the list of contractors.

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  21. Hmmmmm says:

    The Man trying to become the Premier in the next elections so he defending even though he is wrong and it criminal. You pay four contractors up front and the ministry is aware and you tell them they have to come paint the wall. So what you saying? They have to go clear out the rubble and paint the wall now so show honesty when the money collect and spent or they paint the wall when the school is going to be rebuilt again. So they have to paint and put rails as per their contract then the rebuild contractor have to then change it to the new plan, how you work this one?

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    • Funny business says:

      If it is deemed that the contractors can no longer complete the original contract (verbal or otherwise) because of a ‘frustrating’event then they are free to be discharged from the obligations under THAT original contract. If the subject wall in the original contract no longer exists or is so severely damaged as the result of the ‘forces of God’, then voilà! Unless they agree that they should only be paid for the work actually completed and return the pre-paid funds but hey, who knows what the hell the actual terms of the agreement were. If it was a ‘I pay you in full and you vote for me’ kinda agreement, then arguably the contractors have upheld their side of the bargain (more like bribe-gain). Now, just to make things look legit, although it makes no sense whatsoever, it is being said that the contractors will complete their tasks under the original contract (when arguably the reconstruction of a new wall should constitute a new contract). Now Wall-wyn, I have an important question… DA MEK SENSE???

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  22. Hmm says:

    How long this wall up now and y’all talking about new start date to paint? Myron full of s**t!! Why do you think the auditor omitted this? Plus you shouldn’t be paying contractors in full, pay as work is completed!!! Wtf I really reading here? Seriously? Wow!!!

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  23. @TheRealDonald says:

    This wall is a beacon of progress in the BVI.

    Delivering something as steadfast as that wall within 120% of budget and only using 70 contractors is no mean feat, compared to similar economies.

    When Mexico builds the wall, I will be sending them to the BVI for training in how to do so.

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  24. true says:

    quick calculations

    blocks for the entire wall would be less that $20,000
    cement for blocks, plaster, would be $75,000
    rebar at the rates back then. $25,000

    so where is all the money going, labor? Petty contracts do not give value for money, only value for VOTES

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  25. Cudjoe says:

    My reading suggests that Minister Walwyn has legitimate concerns. Considering that the auditor appears to be pro VIP, she did not do the party a favour by creating questionable doubt in this audit.
    This creates even more doubt about ViP and success in the next election considering the party leader’s known lack of honesty and nothing whatsoever to show …nada,zero,zilch, for his expenditures of approx one million US dollars for feasibility studies.,.medical school,drag racing strip etc.

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    • Jacperlance says:

      @Cudjoe, what u don’t know you don’t talk. Asked Myron about the study for that medical school, he had the whole file on his desk prior to hurricane Irma, guess Irma will be blame for the file destruction but I do hope Andrew have a copy. Everything the Auditor does that brings the NDP corruption into question, you all jump at the woman’s throat. Leave the woman let she do her job. The NDP corruption must’ve exposed, they are to blatant with it.

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  26. Blah says:

    The following is my alleged theory and should not be taken as truth although we all can smell what was cooking. The minister did not overrun the budget for financial gain. This was a simple political maneuvering with the sole purpose of pandering to supporters, friends or whoever received these contracts. Do it the right way only one or 2 contractors will be involved and they would have to bid on the project which would have stricter requirements and better value for money but at the same time said minister wouldn’t look cool to the many constituents with their hands out. There were 2 choices available, do it the right way or do it the way to try to win an election. The politician chose to do what politicians do. The End.

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  27. Mr.VI says:

    Fact, every year people cant get paid from Government on time even though the job completed months ago but partner building a wall and his contractors getting paid before the job even done. This alone proves that an audit was necessary and shame on all that try to condone this buffoonery.

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  28. in corruption says:

    Poor fella he got caught

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  29. Fact Finding Report says:

    One definition of the role of an auditor: “Ensures compliance with established internal control procedures by examining records, reports, operating practices, and documentation.” Basically, an auditor determines if internal controls, policies, procedures……etc are being adhered to or not. It is either that rules are being fully complied with or not. It is not the auditor’s job to determine why rules are not being followed. They may make suggestions on how to adhere to the rules. It is a courtesy by an auditor to show people a draft of a report before filing it. As another blogger noted, the Auditor General Report is Fact Finding Report. Just the facts.

    On another issue, why are contractors being paid for working not performed? A contractor can receive progress payments for work put in place or materials purchased (invoice needed) and stored/staged. When a contractor submits an invoice for payment, it should be certified by an inspector before payment is made. Do not expect what you don’t inspect; what gets inspected gets done; what gets recognized and rewarded gets repeated. The bottom line is that taxpayers should not pay for work before it is performed or put in place.

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  30. BuzzBvi says:

    Georgie Hill Road has never been completed and looks like it never will but the contractor was paid and gets lucrative contract on top of lucrative contract ever since. All this money is going astray and BVI loses out every time.

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  31. LB says:

    So the independent and unbiased audit, didn’t put in things HE WANTED to be put in and now he throwing a tantrum? That is the point of an external audit…you don’t get to decide what goes in the audit and what doesn’t!

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  32. UK Auditor says:

    I audit Gov contracts in the UK its is blinding obvious what has gone on here. 70 contractors is a cover for allowing small bits of work under the bench mark for scrutiny of the tender rules. it allows for fraud to be committed. this matter should be refereed to the police and if possibly some of the UK police currently on island.

    Rate check
    8″ thick block work reinforced with #4 bar at 16″ c/s and ladder reinforced every two courses
    =$10 per square Foot / 15,620 X $10 = $156,620 to build the wall. allow 10% for unseen issues.
    note the rate used is a general rate used by the industry and calibrated for the BVI
    lets just say the over spend is considerably more the £158,000. This is clear theft and fraud.

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    • OK says:

      What you say makes perfect sense, but a local consultancy service have valued the works thus far at $899K, are they a part of the fraud as well? I’m not defending anyone as I do not have all the facts, but based on what has been put out there, they, a reputable and experienced building and quantity surveyor firm have valued the wall at around $900K so just checking to see whether that’s being disputed as well.

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    • Builder says:

      @UK Auditor

      I hope you stay in the office and don’t venture out trying to build anything because with those figures you couldn’t build quarter of the wall that currently exists at ESHS.

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      • Be real says:

        @builder

        Interesting so only a quarter of building customers on BVI paid the correct price and you over charge the other three quarters . Interesting

  33. Hmmmm says:

    This is a hit job on Myron. Do not give up Hon. Walwyn, keep fighting the good fight!

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    • SMDH! says:

      An audit conducted by the Auditor General on a contract/Ministry or Department is a hit job? In my humble opinion the Auditor General is doing her job. Wonder what people will say with an audit on the Pier Park and other questionable projects.

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  34. Brad Boynes says:

    Those responses are shady and tainted.

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  35. Pure politics says:

    Myron is playing pure politics out of shame. If this audit came out in his favor then we would not be hearing all of this piddle.

  36. Stupps says:

    He can’t change the facts no matter how he spin things.

    Work and payment to persons who didn’t hold trade licenses and who didn’t complete work. 70 contractors for us here s small project.

    Some government workers went to jail for less than this.

    I’m watching to see who will be held accountable here and how.

  37. /////// says:

    Was there “70” legal contractors in the BVI before Irma. However, believable there is now. Anybody that wanted a contractors Trade License and work permits got them. Nevermind, having knowledge of building. Got a license now….go out and tell devastated people lies to get a job….do shoddy work and never finish it…. Bingo you are now home free! People screwed again.

  38. Tola says:

    I think he will jus push the doc under the rug as always lol ano time this man become the leader of our country we die

  39. Boi says:

    The Antiguan done…you can stick a fork in him now.

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