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Cannonier calls out DeSilva over Port Royal

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A government contract for the delivery of sand to fill golf course bunkers should be reissued after it was awarded to a company run by a Cabinet minister, the Opposition leader has claimed.

Craig Cannonier, the leader of the One Bermuda Alliance, said David Burt, the Premier, should step in and order that the opportunity went back out to tender.

But the Government insisted yesterday that the procurement process was “above board and followed all legal guidelines”.

Island Construction Services, led by Zane DeSilva, who is also the Minister of Tourism and Transport, successfully bid in response to a request for proposal to import thousands of dollars' worth of sand to the government-owned Port Royal Golf Course before a major tournament in the autumn.

Mr Cannonier said Mr DeSilva should have recused himself from the RFP — or been ordered to.

He added: “If David Burt cannot see how bad it looks to award this contract to a Cabinet colleague and someone who has been embroiled in a civil suit in relation to another Port Royal contract, then not only is he out of touch with the people, he is not fit to be Premier.

“He must step in and demand that the RFP for this work is reissued so that small Bermudian firms who are desperate for work can benefit.”

Port Royal is preparing for the first PGA Bermuda Championship, which will run from October 31 to November 3, and the procurement notice posted last month asked for proposals for 4,000 tonnes of sand.

Mr Cannonier said: “This is a minister who was only recently answering parliamentary questions about the budget for improvement work.

“He said he would provide a budget for the work as well as an itemised list of work to be done.

“Under these circumstances, surely it was only appropriate that he should not have bid for this contract or that his bid was rejected.”

However, Jamahl Simmons, the Minister without Portfolio, said: “As a former Minister of Public Works, the Opposition leader should recall that ministers play no part in the procurement process.

“In the case of sand for Port Royal, the RFP was issued in accordance with the Office of Project Management and Procurement requirements.

“Bids were received and evaluated against a matrix developed by that office.

“Public officers from the Ministry of Public Works evaluated the bids and determined that the bid from Island Construction, which was the lowest price, presented the best value for money and that the company was best placed to provide the service required.”

Mr Simmons added: “Based on the technical officers' strong recommendation of Island Construction, the Cabinet approved the award of the contract.”

He said: “The Leader of the Opposition's suggestion that a minister should be recused from bidding on a government contract is ridiculous. In fact, it is laughable.

“Had that standard been applied to the UBP and the OBA, the Government of Bermuda would never buy a car, a sheet of paper, water, milk or even paper clips.”

Mr Simmons added: “Honest, fair criticism is welcome, as this government is not perfect and nor do we claim to be.”

But he said: “Divide-and-conquer tactics based on innuendo and deception, however, contribute nothing of value to the public debate.”

In June, Mr DeSilva, the president and chief executive of Island Construction, helped to announce the tournament.

He and Wendall Brown, a businessman, were listed in a 2017 civil case that alleged they profited from their former positions as trustees of Port Royal by “causing or permitting” construction contracts at the public course to be awarded to their own companies.

Both denied the claims and Mr DeSilva pledged at the time he would fight the lawsuit “to the end” and insisted the trustees “did everything by the book”.

Mr DeSilva did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

Craig Cannonier (File photograph)
Jamahl Simmons (File photograph)

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Published August 20, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated August 20, 2019 at 8:11 am)

Cannonier calls out DeSilva over Port Royal

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