It was just over two years ago that Prime Minister Dean Barrow spoke of a Procurement Policy that would seek to add to the transparency of contracts awarded from the Government of Belize to private entities. Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s presentation was on the UDP’s Manifesto presented on October 21, 2015 in Belize City. Barrow said, quote, “So that people can be certain that their money is being spent wisely, productively and honestly, transparency must be taken to a new level in this next term. We’re going to pass a Public Procurement Bill; a legislation which will become a Public Procurement Act. What this will do is to set out very clearly, the principles that must guide how government procures goods, works and services. When government monies are being spent and government contracts are being awarded, every citizen has a fair shot on the basis of merit of getting a chance to win bids. So what we are talking about is no less than a comprehensive blueprint for better public procurement practices on the basis of the international models. Here is a snippet of the Prime Minister’s address on transparency.
PRIME MINISTER, DEAN BARROW
“Transparency: so that people can be certain that their money is being spent wisely, productively and honestly. Transparency must be taken to a new level in this next term.”
Now, you might be wondering why we are bringing back this portion of the Prime Minister’s address. Love News has been receiving reports of contracts being given out to a company named, Color Blind Multimedia Productions Limited. The reports are that this company, owned by the Chief Executive Officer in the Prime Minister’s Office, Audrey Wallace, is being awarded jobs by certain sectors in the Government as well as Belize Telemedia Limited of which Wallace is a Board Director. We understand that there is no due process being practiced in this regard and with that we sought answers from the BTL Board of Directors. As a result, we were informed via email by the CEO, Rochus Schreiber that Color Blind was given a contract for eleven thousand dollars; which is far below the figure that was initially reported to us and we have been unable to get documented proof that this is indeed the amount. What we were also able to confirm with Schreiber is that there was no invitation for bids for the BTL Tech Expo project and that, quote, “As a private sector company, and not a Government Department, BTL has no obligation to publish bids for tender.” End of quote. Such a statement takes us back to the Prime Minister’s statement where he spoke of the Belize Telemedia Limited being nationalized for the people and the country and now belonging to the Government of Belize. Aside from the BTL issue, there are reports of other contracts being awarded to Color Blind Productions which we are following up on. The alarming issues coming out of these reports are the laxed procurement policies at BTL which opens the door for further nepotism; (2) the people’s monies being used to benefit only selected entities and persons; and (3) the appearance of collusion and lack of transparency now being extended from other Governmental departments like lands and immigration to the Office of the Prime Minister.