BVI News

Plausible? Recovery projects over $2M closed to int’l bidders

A section of the main island of Tortola. (Photo by Davion Smith/BVI News)

Recovery and Development Plan projects that exceed $2 million will only be open to local contractors for bidding.

“There is a $2 million limit where work will not be advertised externally. This is just to make sure that work is done and advertised in this country up to a certain point,” Premier Dr D Orlando Smith explained.

Dr Smith said the Cabinet-approved policy — which is a proposal from the Premier’s Office — is to ensure capacity building in the territory.

“I know that some of our companies have done quite well in working with Caribbean Development Bank over the years and maybe/will be/should be in a position make some those bids and some of those [projects] where there is larger monies are involved. I expect that, at the end of this process, even more companies will have an increased capacity for such major projects.”

Policy’s plausibility in question

Opposition legislator Julian Fraser is however cynical about the policy.

While examining the policy, Fraser raised issues that questioned its plausibility.

“Does that mean that if the project must be done locally and you can’t find ‘local contracts’ to do it, the project doesn’t get done? Or does it mean that, by whatever means necessary, it must be done by locals whether they are competent or incompetent.”

He continued: “Short little statements like those could be dangerous. Short little statements like those seem to come from the lips rather than from the brain … Is that done to make sure that people like myself who are so concerned about who benefits from these monies being spent are comfortable — appease people like me? I’m not that easily impressed.”

The aforementioned policy is one of seven principles that are to serve as the ‘final drafting instructions’ on how regulations for the Recovery and Development Act are to be written.

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31 Comments

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  1. duck1951 says:

    Whichever way it goes one must ensure that the contractor has collateral such as a letter of credit as backup so that the Government does not end up holding an empty bag in case of non-completion . Remember Peebles ?

    • Bidder says:

      And this is how the political officials get kickbacks from construction projects. If the successful bidder is from outside the Territory then there would be no way for the politicians to make a deal for their bank accounts. This stinks of cronyism and corruption. Bid each and every project worldwide and take the lowest competent bid and move on. Stop the BS.

      Like 21
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      • Bidder follow up says:

        Just so you all understand, the pretense for giving work to local contractors so that the money stays in the Territory is a farce. First, all material for a project is bought and paid for off island. Second all the work is done by expats who send their wages home. The only benefits and money that stays goes to the corrupt contractor and the corrupt politicians. Even then they hide the money offshore. You are all buying into BS. You are sheep hearded by wolves.

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  2. seriously says:

    please vote them out

  3. Albion says:

    I am disappointed. So once again we will restrict a free and fair bidding process so that we can ensure jobs go to a well connected local contractor who will lack relevant experience and will give us shoddy workmanship at an inflated price.

    Disappointed. But not surprised.

    Like 31
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  4. Political Observer (PO) says:

    “Recovery and Development Plan projects that exceed $2 million will only be open to local contractors for bidding.” I”m confused about the foregoing quote. Is it saying that only projects under $2M will be open to international bidding. To me this twisted logic. Was the intent to say that only projects over $2M will be open to international bidding. Someone set me straight;I’m slow.

    Like 16
    • Lmao says:

      I suspect Premier Due Dilligence intended to say the opposite! Does he really think we are will build his $300M airport?
      His catastrophic business judgement and practices have crippled our country. His $100m Hospital that sat empty after construction for ten years because of poor management. The $8m (including unexplained airport expenditures) BVI airlines investment was conducted as though it was a state secret. The $100M pier project that was way not only over budget but the true cost wasn’t disclosed to bond holders and the public. The $1.5M school wall that our Minister of Finance neglected to properly manage.
      Our new lending authorities won’t permit this level of mismanagement.

      Like 10
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    • Reply to Political Observer says:

      @ Political Observer like you, I am somewhat confused by the article because the first two sentences are contradictory.

      The press in the BVI really needs to get its act together and stop publishing such poorly written and misconceived articles.

      The direct quote from the Premier suggests that projects valued under $2 million will not be advertised externally, rather than what the opening sentence of the article claims.

      I would sincerely hope that the quote attributed to the Premier is the true position because we in the Virgin Islands cannot be serious about developing the Territory if we restrict large contracts exceeding $2 million to local, unqualified, inexperienced and unskilled contractors, whose shoddy work was cruelly exposed in the aftermath of the floods and hurricanes last year. The pathetic state of our roads is clear evidence that anything beyond very small-scale construction is beyond the local contractors.

      The Territory will continue to be 30 years behind in its development if serious, sophisticated and knowledgeable foreign expertise isn’t allowed to come in and develop the Territory’s sub-standard infrastructure.

      • Rubber Duck says:

        It has to be projects under $2 million that are reserved for local companies.

        No local contractor could build the airport extension and operate it as envisaged. Or build the roads we need.

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  5. best value for money says:

    Find the best man or woman for the job regardless of where they are from.

    Competition is only good for the territory. You don’t want people only getting the job because they are local to only find out later they were completely incompetent.

    Like 21
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    • Wrong says:

      Local but QUALIFIED! It’s about time we had a Government that stood up for the people. Over $500 mil will be spent which WE THE PEOPLE in the form of OUR GOVERNMENT will have to pay back. It’s only right that as much of that money circulates here. We are not saying give every local with a contractor license a job. We are saying wherever possible local QUALIFIED contractors should be given the opportunities to carry out these projects. While we are aware of a few nightmarish government projects where locals dropped the ball, we cannot deny that there are many very good, reputable contractors locally.

      Like 11
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  6. Bang says:

    This is WRONG! It should be 15 mil or 20 mil. $2 mil is the cost of a big house now and our people have been building houses for how long? Who built the pier park? Who finished the hospital? Who built the multi-sports complex? Who built all those big commercial buildings in town and throughout the Territory? Let us stop the f*****g foolishness please.

    Like 6
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  7. Rayon says:

    I agree with the Honorable that raised concern over the It is nice to make a plan but it is dangerous to restrict the bidding to locals or a group of people.This restriction will result in recurring poor job done which can be seen on deplorable condition of the road that has been fixed and refixed repeatedly. A lot of taxpayers money has been wasted on this shoddy job. There are pot holes and wells on the roads with poor drainage.It is better competent hands are involved.

  8. Rayon says:

    I agree with the Honorable that raised concern over the idea of restriction. It is nice to make a plan but it is dangerous to restrict the bidding to locals or a group of people.This restriction will result in recurring poor job done which can be seen on deplorable condition of the road that has been fixed and refixed repeatedly. A lot of taxpayers money has been wasted on this shoddy job. There are pot holes and wells on the roads with poor drainage.It is better competent hands are involved.

  9. Jones says:

    Whoever does the work needs to be competent!!!

  10. E. Leonard says:

    Every country, region, island-nation, city, county, borough……..etc prefers and protects their own residents. For example, in the US in some cities, the City Council puts legislation in place that favors preferential treatment for experienced, qualified local contractors(residing/operating within the City or municipal statistical area) provided they demonstrate the capacity and capability, offer fair and reasonable pricing and deliver value for money.

    Therefore, the VI should be no different; local qualified, experienced contractors with a proven track record of delivering high level quality service (completing projects on time and at or under budget) should get preferential consideration for contracts. Of course, local does not mean/license for charging highly inflated prices and delivering poor quality outcomes. Contractors (local) must offer fair and reasonable pricing and deliver value for money.

    True, competition keeps prices fair and reasonable. As such, local contractors must be mindful that they are not just competing against other local contractors but also with regional and international contractors. The taxpayers expect and should get the best bang for their bucks.

    Moreover, there is value to keeping and spending money local. Spending money local has a multiplier effect upon the economy, employment, growth and development, consumption…..etc. A dollar should circulate in the economy more than time. Due to the territory’s small size and high import need/bill, the territory’s has a high leakage in its economy. Consequently, the territory should try to keep money local to the maximum extent practical. Therefore, in an effort to keep money local, local contractors may need to pool resources(money, skill, equipment, admin….etc) and join forces (if only temporarily) to enhance and improve their competitive opportunity to get projects.

    Further, can someone explain what the following means: “Recovery and Development Plan projects that exceed $2 million will only be open to local contractors for bidding.”

    • Contrarian says:

      Assuming your claim is accurate, some US cities prefer local residents for contracts over outside(out of cities) contractors who are also American citizens. However, in the BVI, just mention the term local or even indigenous set many off with cries of xenophobia, hatred of expats…..etc. There are over 120 diffrent nationalities in the BVI and in all those home countries locals come first. Further, in many of those larger countries, they demonstrate the same attitude towards expats that the BVI is accused of.

      Anyway, strongly support qualified and experienced local contractors getting preferential treatment for RDA projects. If the speciality skills, scope of work, experience ….etc are beyond the capacity and capability of local contractors, of course, the market should be open to regional and international bidders. Local contractors may need to expand their repertoire of construction knowledge, skills and ability so as to compete globally. Keep money local.

      Like 4
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      • there is a difference says:

        The difference between the BVI and many other countries is, is that the BVI has a very small pool of qualified people it can use. If you compare the US or any other big country they have millions of people. So there are enough qualified locals. In the BVI there simply is not a lot of choice. If you want quality (which in these times is an absolute necesity) you have to stop being so narrow minded and only giving chances to locals.

        • Contrarian says:

          @Their is a difference, here is an excerpt of comment :”Assuming your claim is accurate, some US cities prefer local residents for contracts over outside(out of cities) contractors who are also American citizen.” The focus on cities, not the US as whole. You are correct in that the BVI has a small pool of qualified contractors so if the available work is beyond the capacity and capability of local contractors or a surge need is needed, regional and international contractors should be invited to provide bids. Nonetheless, qualified and experienced local contractors should be given preference. Of the Department of Labour should be monitoring the local construction capacity and capability and if there is need for additional capacity it should initiate action to recruit regional and international contractors. Further, the Department of Labour should collaborate with the MEC to provide contractor training and educator, ie, technical skills, business and finance, contract management skills……..etc.

          Like 4
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          • The problem is says:

            I understand you want to give some preference to keep as much jobs locally. The problem is that there is a total lack of control and accountability and people can do whatever the hell they want once they have the contract.

    • Eagle & Buffalo says:

      “Therefore, the VI should be no different; local qualified, experienced contractors with a proven track record of delivering high level quality service (completing projects on time and at or under budget) should get preferential consideration for contracts.“ Here is a news flash. Few, if any, government construction contract(s) are completed on time or at or under budget. It is an open secret that the cost of an awarded contract is only the beginning of the cost to taxpayers. Taxpayers must demand value for money; if it is going to happen, it is up to you taxpyers.

      Maximize local participation to keep money local. Taxpayers will be on the hook for approx $500M. With an approx $300M budget, this $500M, along with other debt, will take a while to payback. The taxpayers must get a good return on investment (ROI). Further, the GDP is approximely $1B and if the VI could apply its full budget ($300M) it could pay off its debt in less than 10 years. Nonetheless, the BVI have other needs and not just debt, ie, public safety, roads, health, education, day-to-day government operations, retirees annuity, public works, social services……….etc.

      Let’s lead like eagles, not careen off the cliff like buffaloes.

  11. Think about it says:

    We could star by using less ambiguous language. Is the $ 2 million an upper or a lower limit. Regardless, why not advertise it in the interests of transparency so BVIslanders can see what is going on? Simply require bidders to submit evidence with bid that they are locals. Not advertising to me means that someone’s friend or family gets the job. Sure to come to no good.

    Many commenters seem to think restricting certain contracts to locals is OK so long as they are qualified. But what does that mean? Maybe we could start by looking at performance indicators such as the number of projects completed on time and within budget in the last 5-10 years. Can’t imagine that list would be very long.

  12. true says:

    Here this there will be snap election in Jan this is to get all local contractors on their side

  13. partnerships... says:

    … are the way forward – local contractors teaming up with capable foreign skilled trades and that way the local workforce can finally train on how to do everything properly and take some profit and for the rest of us, the infrastructure is properly constructed, something our neighbours enjoy but never us. In the experience of other islands, after five years we are left with trained up locals who can really compete to get jobs done well going forward with much less reliance on importing skills and labour.

    if we had a small permanent residence section of population granted in their prime (ten years seems to be the norm for smaller nations, five for large) before people are in their dotage, that with the local population would then provide a small housing market in order to create future demand for our then skilled local tradesmen. Of course, moving to wind and solar, home automation, presents more opportunities also for our young men and women.

    Let’s go BVI

  14. Ausar says:

    The level of destruction in this country after the storms should suggest the level of incompetence and hence the need for competent contractors to complete projects locally.

    Case in Point: Roadway infrastructural development. So, our local contractors have had the exclusive rights to this industry and what has been the results after rains, storms, and heavy winds? Absolute damage and destruction.

    Not impressed with the Premier’s pronouncements. Must revisit statements to ensure consummate competence!

  15. @ Ausar says:

    Any country that experience Hurricane and floods which past through the Virgin Islands last year would be destroyed. I do not hear or see any one say that the contractors in the United States are incompetent when their place is destroyed by storms.

    Just to show how the general attitude is to make Virgin Islanders look like they are incapable of taking charge of their own destiny. Some of the strongest structures that survived the storm were built by Virgin Islanders in the days when family use to assist each other with no outside labor. This insulting of our intelligence and our capabilities need to stop. The fact is, when we do it ourselves we will do it out of love knowing that we want it to last we want it to last, when others do it for us their interest is only to get a fast buck.

    Like 2
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  16. The watchman says:

    Hmmm, does this go for the airport too? Airport funds in the RDA plans too.

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