Finance ministry defends tender process

Saturday 28 November 2020 | Written by Emmanuel Samoglou | Published in Economy, National


Finance ministry defends tender process
(PHOTO: CI NEWS) 16040845

As a review takes place by the Audit Office after a public complaint, a government official has come out in defence of the tendering process for the Penrhyn Cyclone Shelter project.

Secretary Garth Henderson from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management said the tendering process for a $5.3 million project to construct two multi-story masonry cyclone centres on Penrhyn was carried out above board and followed government procedures.

“I am confident that the tender process undertaken by ICI (Infrastructure Cook Islands) and due diligence undertaken by the Tender Committee and the accompanying paper trail are sufficient to establish that nothing inappropriate has taken place,” Henderson wrote in an email to Cook Islands News.

“Public procurement is an open and transparent process with a grievance channel and due diligence from Audit available to complainants as well.”

The contract was awarded to Civil Contractors Limited (CCL), which is expected to begin building the shelters at the villages of Omoka and Te Tautua on the northern group island next month.

The project has been embroiled in controversy with the Opposition Democratic Party and members of the public calling for an investigation by the Cook Islands Audit Office. A company official said the complaint over the tender boiled down to “politics”.

Henderson added: “… strong Procurement Policy has strengthened the tender process for public infrastructure to ensure a level playing field is provided to potential bidders to ensure that taxpayers get infrastructure at the best possible price and quality.”

“Good solid procurement policy is an area we have expended a lot of energy in strengthening over the years.”

Shelter construction has been delayed as Civil Contractors Limited was waiting for their shipping subcontractor to receive a barge that had been procured in Australia.

The barge, named MV Taunga Nui, arrived in Rarotonga on Friday.  Henderson said it is “encouraging” that Civil Contractors Ltd has chosen to take on projects in the Pa Enua, which he describes as a challenging environment.

“Very few companies are available and willing to undertake project work in the Pa Enua and if they do it is at great costs,” Henderson said.

“In recent times, where we only had one local company willing to do work it was at a price level that was simply unacceptable.”

An article published this week stated the barge to be used in the project is owned and operated by Cook Islands General Transport. A previous article incorrectly stated it was owned by Civil Contractors Limited.