Espat weighs in on Faber’s Road Contract

By
Updated: October 18, 2017

Also commenting on the Fabers Road Recontruction Project Contract is Julius Espat.  Espat is the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and referred the contract as a primary example on how the PAC should carry out its responsibilities.

Julius Espat – Chairman of PAC

“We are saying that for the democracy to work and under our constitution you have to allow the PAC to work so that you can create checks and balances so that people can feel comfortable that the way government is spending their money is the way that it should be. We might not agree with everything but we will at least be able to highlight the more blatant situations. A clear example is what is happening with this contract with the Faber’s Road scenario and so if you had a Public Accounts Committee that was really true and wanted to analyse these things then that would be a clear example that would force government’s hand to say listen to me we are not in disagreement that the work that Fabers Road needs to be done, everybody in Belize understands that that is a priority for this area, fine, so where is the tendering process, where are the people that are participation, how much money is there break it down for us and therefore the Belizean people can have it clear. We are not even saying that it’s wrong for the contractors to make a profit but let it be a profit that is reasonable. In the construction industry the profits range from 10% to maybe about 40% that is acceptable within the range. You are talking about over 200% or 300% that is not profit anymore. So all we want is for these contracts to be done fairly and the only way to do it is to have a functioning public accounts committee and have the participation of the social partners so that any party in government inclusive the People’s United Party would have to be able to disclose what they are doing. The basic concept that we are getting to and people say well we voted them in to do what they want, no. In a business or where you work for you do not use the people’s money, your organization uses their money to make the decision they are responsible to two people, to their board of directors and to their employees that is the scenario that you play and to their clients. In government you are using the people’s money, it is not your money, and the people vote you in to give you the opportunity to manage their money as efficiently as you possibly can.”

Reporter

“And using the Fabers Road contract as an example if the PAC would take on that contract and peruse the details its powers are limited in terms of ‘okay we make a suggestion to cancel’ it won’t be able to force or command the government to cancel the contract.”

Julius Espat – Chairman of PAC

“You see there are a lot of changes within the system that we have to implement. True transparency in first world countries and they are learning too it’s just that they are at a pace higher than ours and it’s equally proportional to their development; countries that have managed to minimize the level of corruption are the countries that are economically powerful they are better off than us, their people live better than us so true transparency cannot rely on individuals. You can’t rely on me or your or him to make always the decision that is beneficial for all, you have to have systems that automate it to a certain extent. So for contracts to be transparent in my opinion you have to have a computerized system where every contract that is signed is published, it is published it is online where you can have access by just going in and finding out ‘oh Fabers road’ and the contract, the full contract is stipulated, the award, the value, bill of quantities, when it’s supposed to start, when the payment are supposed to be done who is supposed to supervise it what is the period of time, you don’t have to fight to get access to tat information. We are saying that for the democracy to work and under our constitution you have to allow the PAC to work so that you can create checks and balances so that people can feel comfortable that the way government is spending their money is the way that it should be. We might not agree with everything but we will at least be able to highlight the more blatant situations. A clear example is what is happening with this contract with the Faber’s Road scenario and so if you had a Public Accounts Committee that was really true and wanted to analyse these things then that would be a clear example that would force government’s hand to say listen to me we are not in disagreement that the work that Fabers Road needs to be done, everybody in Belize understands that that is a priority for this area, fine, so where is the tendering process, where are the people that are participation, how much money is there break it down for us and therefore the Belizean people can have it clear. We are not even saying that it’s wrong for the contractors to make a profit but let it be a profit that is reasonable. In the construction industry the profits range from 10% to maybe about 40% that is acceptable within the range. You are talking about over 200% or 300% that is not profit anymore. So all we want is for these contracts to be done fairly and the only way to do it is to have a functioning public accounts committee and have the participation of the social partners so that any party in government inclusive the People’s United Party would have to be able to disclose what they are doing. The basic concept that we are getting to and people say well we voted them in to do what they want, no no. In a business or where you work for you do not use the people’s money, your organization uses their money to make the decision they are responsible to two people, to their board of directors and to their employees that is the scenario that you play and to their clients. In government you are using the people’s money, it is not your money, the people vote you in to give you the opportunity to manage their money as efficiently as you possibly can.”

Reporter

“And using the Fabers Road contract as an example if the PAC would take on that contract and peruse the details its powers are limited in terms of ‘okay we make a suggestion to cancel’ it won’t be able to force or command the government to cancel the contract?”

Julius Espat – Chairman of PAC

“You see there are a lot of changes within the system that we have to implement. True transparency in first world countries and they are learning too it’s just that they are at a pace higher than ours and it’s equally proportional to their development; countries that have managed to minimize the level of corruption are the countries that are economically powerful they are better off than us, their people live better than us so true transparency cannot rely on individuals. You can’t rely on me or your or him to make always the decision that is beneficial for all, you have to have systems that automate it to a certain extent. So for contracts to be transparent in my opinion you have to have a computerized system where every contract that is signed is published, it is published it is online where you can have access by just going in and finding out ‘oh Fabers road’ and the contract, the full contract is stipulated, the award, the value, bill of quantities, when it’s supposed to start, when the payment are supposed to be done who is supposed to supervise it what is the period of time, you don’t have to fight to get access to that information.