The stench of corruption in the Dominica government
By TDN Wire Staff
April 25, 2016 10:32 A.M
The proposed $18.2 million Roseau West Bridge project.
Roseau, Dominica (TDN)
For years the Dominica government has been painted as among the most corrupt regimes in the Eastern Caribbean and they continue to live up to that billing. In the past few days it was revealed that the largest public works project to be issued post- Erika was done without any public bidding and in direct contradiction to the procurement laws of the country.
To add insult to injury the project was awarded to a Barbadian firm quietly bypassing local engineering firms well capable of carrying out the desired works.
Everything about the awarding of this contract smacks of corruption. Government simply ignored their own guidelines for awarding such projects. Most observers believe the price tag is overly exaggerated and are questioning why an estimated 176 feet bridge, 300 feet of river wall and some river dredging could cost EC $ 18.2 million (US $ 6.7 million).
Beyond the bloated cost another obvious question is who are the people behind this company and whether government officials involved in this blatant corruption will benefit financially from the awarding of this contract.
Days after the December 2014 election, which saw the involvement of political consultant from Barbados Hartley Henry and a slew of Bajan consultants, he triumphantly announced that the election in Dominica gave a significant economic boost to the Barbadian economy.
By Hartley’s own calculations millions of dollars were spent on Barbadian consultants, travel agencies, and printing and advertising services. Now in the wake of the recent revelations, questions are being asked concerning whether this is further payback for the work of those consultants in helping to effectively steal a general election.
It turns out that the firm NSG Barbados Ltd had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Skerrit regime just months before the December 2014 General elections. Further they had undertaken a study to suggest improvements to Roseau. Now less than two years after the election they have suddenly resurfaced with a lucrative no bid project, which will undoubtedly cost the Dominica public.
Public concern in the country is mounting in the face of government’s determination to send good paying jobs overseas at the expense of the poor suffering and unemployed masses in Dominica. A ceremony advertised as ground breaking drew less than a hundred persons although seating arrangements were made for in excess of 400.
One thing is clear international funding agencies will not take this development lightly. They will be more constrained in borrowing to a government that continues to demonstrate this propensity to bend the rules and feather its own nest.
In fact political observers have pointed to the dramatic fall of over 80 percent in grants to the government in the recent past to a wariness of this corrupt regime by potential donors. In the meantime the state of restlessness continues in a country with mounting unemployment and poverty.