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Friday 23 March 2018

Cadiz: JCC jumped the gun

MINSTER of Trade Stephen Cadiz yesterday defended the Government’s decision to open up the procurement process for a possible $5 billion development at Invaders Bay to the general public, and argued that the Joint Consultative Council (JCC) of the local construction industry has “jumped the gun” in criticising the project.

Tomorrow marks the deadline for the submission of requests for proposals (RFPs) which are meant to outline plans for how the 70 acres of land south of MovieTowne can be used. The State intends to lease the land to developers after the selection process, if suitable proposals are made. After lease, the State will have no involvement in the project and will not fund the $5 billion in estimated costs. Those costs are to be met by the developers, if chosen.

However, the JCC has objected to the process by which the State — in particular the Ministry of Planning and the Economy — has sought proposals. They have noted that the State gave potential applicants only six weeks within which to submit RFPs. Cadiz — who met with the JCC last month on the issue — yesterday said the whole point of the RFP exercise was to give investors the chance to submit proposals.

“What the Government has done is asked interested parties for proposals for concepts,” he said. “I don’t see that there is any issue at all. There were proposals made and the Government felt that this is public land and we should open it up and we gave people six weeks, we feel that is enough time.”

Though he would not rule out extending the deadline for applications and possibly asking for further submissions, he said delays would not be in the interest of the economy.

“We need to get these things going,” he said. “The JCC only made representation of their disappointment four weeks into the RFP. This Government will gauge all concerns but it was felt that the Government was right.”

“The reason to go out for RFPs is to open it up,” he said. “I was disappointed in the JCC statement because they identified a particular project and everybody has a right to submit a proposal.”

Cadiz said it is possible that no suitable proposal will be submitted and that the matter will go back to square one.He said the Government is seeking to consider “serious” proposals from experienced businessmen.

“We want experienced people,” he said. “We don’t want people to come there and experiment with this thing we don’t have the luxury of time. This is prime downtown property. You have to have experience. We know that this is going to be a commercial venture it is not going to be a methanol plant. People who are involved would have preconceived ideas of what should go there and what should not. If they have serious proposals they would already have an idea of where they are going to get the backing from.”

“I think the JCC jumped the gun,” he said. “If you cannot do it by six week then how long? Six months?”

The JCC yesterday launched a website to publish their concerns over the project. In a letter on their website, they noted concerns over the scope of work relative to the six-week time frame.

“The JCC is aware that there are several unsolicited proposals from private sector developers for the development of Invaders Bay which have already been submitted to Government in the form of design concepts,” the JCC president Afra Raymond said in a letter to the Minister of Planning Dr Bhoe Tewarie on the website. “There is little doubt that those took far longer than six weeks to prepare.”

“Given that the likely construction cost of this development is estimated to exceed $5 billion and the demanding requirements of the proposals, one can scarcely believe that the publication of this RFP will elicit any new competitive design and build proposals,” the JCC said.


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