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As Gov't confirms VINO's story, more details emerge on airport contract award

- Fight in Cabinet as two Members reportedly did not support the decision; Many wait to see how back benchers will react to the Airport expansion project being given to the Chinese
It is reported that two Ministers of Government- Hon Ronnie W. Skelton (AL) left, the Minister for Health and Social Development and Hon Myron V. Walwyn (AL), centre, the Minister for Education and Culture- did not support the Cabinet decision to give the airport contract to the Chinese bidder. Photo: VINO/File
Minister for Communications and Works Hon Mark H. Vanterpool (R4), left, Premier Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith (AL), centre, and Deputy Premier Dr The Hon Kedrick D. Pickering (R7), right, all supported the Chinese company. Photo: VINO/File
Minister for Communications and Works Hon Mark H. Vanterpool (R4), left, Premier Dr The Hon D. Orlando Smith (AL), centre, and Deputy Premier Dr The Hon Kedrick D. Pickering (R7), right, all supported the Chinese company. Photo: VINO/File
Former Permanent Secretary Julian Willock (right), of the local marketing and political consulting firm Advance Marketing and Professional Services, said he rejects that notion that back benchers will openly oppose the Cabinet decision to award the airport project to China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC). Photo: VINO/File
Former Permanent Secretary Julian Willock (right), of the local marketing and political consulting firm Advance Marketing and Professional Services, said he rejects that notion that back benchers will openly oppose the Cabinet decision to award the airport project to China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC). Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- Some five days after Virgin Islands News Online first and accurately broke the story (December 22, 2016) that the Cabinet of Premier Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) had awarded the Terrance B. Lettsome runway expansion project to China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC), the Government has also confirmed our article.

In a press release days later, on December 27, 2016, the National Democratic Party (NDP) Administration confirmed it had selected the Chinese company over IDL/McAlpine who had a local partner.

Another Biwater?

However, new details have emerged over the decision. For months after our newsroom first broke the original story on May 17, 2016 many NDP supporters, contractors mainly from the Seventh and Eighth Districts, and other heavy equipment operators had lobbied the Government to give the runway expansion project to the company with the local interest.

After all in 2011 when the NDP first won the general elections it told the people it would look out for local businesses as it hammered the then Virgin Islands Party Government of Hon Ralph T. O'Neal OBE that they had made a mistake to give a water contract to a foreign company, Biwater, while there was another foreign company Ocean Conversion with local interest just like IDL/McAlpine.

However, what the NDP failed to tell the people and voters in their propaganda of 2011 is that months after signing with Biwater the VIP also signed a water contract with then foreign company Ocean Conversion because the VIP had taken into account that they had local partners and shareholders.

The Cabinet Decision, Two against?

It has also been unearthed that the Cabinet decision, taken December 21, 2016 on the runway extension "preferred bidder" after much delay and debate, was not unanimous.

While our newsroom awaits other details of the meeting from our senior NDP sources, we were advised that two Ministers of Government- Hon Ronnie W. Skelton, the Minister for Health and Social Development and Hon Myron V. Walwyn, the Minister for Education and Culture- expressed grave reservation and did not support the preferred bidder.

According to the same source, the Premier, the Deputy Premier Dr The Hon Kedrick D. Pickering (R7) and the Minister for Communications and Works Hon Mark H. Vanterpool (R4) all supported the Chinese company.

Meanwhile, in a previous story a source had indicated that Acting Deputy Governor Rosalie Adams had presided over the Cabinet meeting of December 21, 2016, however, we can now confirm that it was in fact Premier Smith who had presided over the meeting.

It is also our understanding that the Dr Smith Administration will seek a loan of $150M to fund the airport project and this new loan could max out the government's limit on borrowing.

This will certainly affect other goals for other major capital works, and ties the hands of any new Administration, according to a senior government official, speaking to our newsroom.

Watch the back benchers! Rebellion?

There are also reports of a possible rebellion from three back benchers over the project and the possibility that they will vote in the House of Assembly (HoA) against the loan.

However, in an invited comment from our newsroom, Julian Willock, of the local marketing and political consulting firm Advance Marketing and Professional Services, said he rejects that notion.

Mr Willock, who is also a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communications and Works, said "with all the talk about a rebellion I do not see any back bencher voting against the loan or even abstaining for that matter…they will all toe the party line, and in fact the two Ministers of Government that you told me were against the deal will also vote for the loan in Parliament..."

The political consultant said over the past five years he has paid keen attention to the NDP and concluded, "like them or hate them they have learnt the art of singing Kumbaya in public at least, but will eat each other behind closed doors."

Some of the NDP critics believe this decision to go with CCCC could hurt the NDP at the polls, however, Mr Willock cautioned "it will be premature to come to such a conclusion...many voters have short memories…"

Premier Smith & the Truth

In another twist, Premier Smith told the HoA on December 19, 2016 in response to a question from Opposition Leader Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3) that no giveaways were negotiated or on the table for the low $154M bid.

However, the same NDP source said, "not so fast, as there are many correspondences on file about concession and demands made by the Chinese, including the option for the original bid to go up if their own research shows that things on the ground are different once the project commences." That in itself is a loop-hole as the bid is expected to go up.

36 Responses to “As Gov't confirms VINO's story, more details emerge on airport contract award”

  • Where is the rest of the story? (29/12/2016, 16:16) Like (25) Dislike (1) Reply
    VINO, you're usually on top of things. When will you write about how the World Bank —the very same bank from which the government intends to seek the loan— has a sanction against CCCC for fraud while building an airport in the Philipines. This means that as long as we use CCCC to build our airport, all request for a loan will be denied. So now my question to you, the people of the BVI is: What do you think our astute and auspicious government will do next in regards to this matter? Will they: A) Find another company with a more favourable reputation so they can get the loan or B) Carry on with their tyrannical reign of greed and obstinacy and straddle us poor BVIslanders with another $200mil debt that will probably balloon to half a billion fully well knowing our noses are already grounded in the mud?
    • pension (29/12/2016, 21:25) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
      The probably have their eyes on some of social security millions!
      • @Pension (29/12/2016, 23:44) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
        SSB probably done bailing out National bank and now this. I guess we have no modern day Noel Lloyd to stop this Government from breathing down our throat. SSB will not be able to meet pensioners demands just now. I'm surprised the media didn't follow through on this that the govt taking money from SSB to bail out national bank and other debts. Where else can they get money from to make the books look good. Social Security is a disgrace. God help us. CCCC will be a major problem for the next administration bigger than biwater. It should not pass in hoa. Those fools who thinking of passing it will also feel the wrath. No respect here for the people we put in and call government. I've never seen in decades our country like this.
  • King Chung LaChoy (29/12/2016, 16:20) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
  • No Transparency, No Accountability (29/12/2016, 16:29) Like (18) Dislike (0) Reply

    No Financials, No Budgets, but they’re full speed ahead trying to get this deal off the ground to save face. This is their last ditch attempt to disguise the TRUTH STATE OF OUR COUNTRY under their FAILED LEADERSHIP. NDP will disintegrate without this deal.
    • I'm with you on this one (29/12/2016, 19:27) Like (13) Dislike (0) Reply
      @No Transparency, No Accountability. I truly think NDP is hiding behind not revealing the true state of our country's finances because it may alert us to how broke we really are as a country. This deal they are pushing so hard surely looks like another lifeline to keep them going.
    • Failure (30/12/2016, 11:21) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      Without this deal, NDP disintegrates. With this deal, the BVI will disintegrate economically. For a place that offers offshorefinancial services, ironic that BVI govt should not seek some sort of financial advice before going ahead. Perhaps they have, but they are choosing to go full speed ahead, and damn the consequences for the rank and file.
  • ¤ (29/12/2016, 16:31) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    This is so sad. The b£@ck against b£@ck cancer in the BVI is going stronger and stronger. We're still out there killing each other in every way possible. Well, I guess we'll learn from our mistakes.
  • kgb (29/12/2016, 16:33) Like (7) Dislike (3) Reply
    Well sah vino did you hack the USA elections with the Russians???
  • ras marley (29/12/2016, 16:38) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    hypocrites and parasites
  • son of the soil (29/12/2016, 17:56) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    is funny man trying to spite Dr. Pickering by not supporting?
  • usvi (29/12/2016, 17:56) Like (22) Dislike (2) Reply
    When will we ever learn- all our key travelers come in through St Thomas- use all those wasted millions to give us a 24 7 ferry service to Charlotte Amalie - these guys are simply deaf- governor needs to veto this mess
  • just wrong (29/12/2016, 18:05) Like (8) Dislike (2) Reply
    I am really confused. How can any Government or business award a contract when the source of financing is still up in the air? Airport Runway Expansion Pun Intended.
    • Win Win. (29/12/2016, 18:53) Like (36) Dislike (15) Reply
      The Chinese will provide the financing and do the work along with local sub contractors... Deal we can't refuse. We got nothing to lose. Ita a win win for all parties.
      • just wrong (29/12/2016, 19:42) Like (10) Dislike (0) Reply
        @Win Win - Sorry, guess I didn't read where it said the Chinese would provide the financing. Me bad. So please enlighten me. Are you saying the Chinese are paying for the Chinese to build the Airport Extension that only Oil Nut Bay will benefit from? Wow ... How does that work?
      • @ win win (29/12/2016, 21:39) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
        that is breaking news then
        • @Win Win.? (30/12/2016, 04:43) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
          Ok. Win win. What you are saying is highly practical and definitely possible.. Here is the ? / How would the Chinese get their money back plus interest? 2/ How would this Airport benefits us.
      • hold up (30/12/2016, 03:41) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
        That is similar to Biwater. What else they doing besides the airport. Biwater gave us water plant and sewerage plants. A bridge?
    • Pagliacci (29/12/2016, 20:21) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
      no kidding theres sum ting wong here.
  • dog (29/12/2016, 21:40) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    there is much more in the mota on this chinese deal
  • voiceofthevoiceless (29/12/2016, 21:45) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    Haste makes waste the old saying goes. Why the haste with this expansion when we have not seen audited statements in 10 years? Can anyone confirm our true financial standing? Where are the studies for this project and why is the Government refusing to release them to the public? Cost/Benefit analysis, environmental study where are these studies? You just invested 7 million in BVI Airways to fly direct to the mainland should we not wait a couple years to see how that works out before we proceed? It could be used as a case study on whether or not that route is sustainable, no?

    The UK turned down the first attempt to push this through and I believe that they may well do the same this time around. The BVI is a contingent liability of the UK and they will not entertain any risk that would cause them to have to bail us out. Although we may not see these studies and the financials, I am sure that the UK will have to see them before they sign off on that loan. The Ag. Accountant General just expressed concern with the Government's ability to service their current loans, so what they do? Go and take a massive loan? Could it be that they are depending on the sale of Prospect reef to increase their reserves and then their borrowing power?

    When will this Government come clean with the People who they should be serving?
  • Political Observer (PO) (29/12/2016, 23:24) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
    "However, the same NDP source said, "not so fast, as there are many correspondences on file about concession and demands made by the Chinese, including the option for the original bid to go up if their own research shows that things on the ground are different once the project commences." What kind of Anansi story mi ah hare? Is government going to let the taxpayers be hustled by this company? Did China Communication Construction Company (CCCC) deliberatively bid low intended knowing that the BVI was easy picking for a ruse to increase the bid price?

    Moreover, bids on a contract include some risks. Typically, a contractor bid on a contract assuming some risks, i.e., weather pattern will be per historical norms, inflation will stay within a certain percentage during the contract term, labour cost will stay stable, material and equipment prices will stay stable........etc. If prices go up the increase is on the contractor and if prices go down, advantage contractor. Will the contractor do a deductive change order if prices go down? No. The only time typically that the base bid price should change after award is 1)if owner increase the original scope of work, 2) different site conditions experienced or 3) unforeseen conditions experienced.

    Moreover, if borrowing a $150M to fund this project will put the BVI at its borrowing limit, is it in the best interest of VI to incur this debt at this time? What will be the opportunity cost, i.e. some other vital projects will not get done, of borrowing the $150M? Reporting in this article indicates that at least two members of the caucus were not in support of the project. If true, should not a capital project of magnitude not earn unanimous support from the caucus? What was the reason(s) for the lack of unanimous support?

    Clearly, the NDP has proven that it is adroit at retail politics. VIP let NDP defined it instead of it defining itself. And as a a result, it was shellac 11-2 in the last election. Additionally, Julian Willock understand the nuts and bolts of retail politics. He has his finger on the pulse of VI politics.
  • voice (30/12/2016, 03:58) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    The two ministers should have held out. That would have allowed the people to see they were voting their conscience and not as party puppets. Why did they give in to this rotten deal.? Mr. Primier tell the people of this territory where the money is coming from for this project. Time for some truth to come from you to the people. Too many lies are told. Time for tha bill on information come. What all is being hidden from the people by the NDP. Take note of South Korea, Argintina, Brazil and others. We want value for money and our people must get work and good pay. If the Chinese get the concessions they seek , Virginislanders must get the same. Do not break law and order for Chinese and kill us with taxes. Time for Britain to say stop taking advantage of the people. How will China by pass America with their rotten deals to us?
  • Socrates (30/12/2016, 04:57) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    Is it not a standard best management practice to secure funding for a project before awarding a contract? Outside of required change orders, is it normal for a contract base price to increase after award? Is China Communication Construction Company contract base price on the verge of ballooning to $200M or more? Will borrowing $150M for this project put the BVI borrowing at its funding limit? Will this borrowing limit crowd out other borrowing and freeze other needed capital projects? Will this project put the UK in a contingent liability situation? Will the UK support this project?

    Talking about support, is it true that Ronnie and Walwyn voted not in support of the project at Cabinet? If true, why? Do Virgin Islanders need to know why? School chiren are saying that because of familiy loyalty Mark had to vote for it. Is it true? Will lengthening the runway automatically cause airlines to start direct flights into and out of Terence B Lettsome International Airport? Is passenger load factor (PLF) (ratio of paying passenger miles to avaiable seat miles) the prime factor in flight/route planning? If we (BVI) build it, will they automatically come? Are airlines rushing to start direct flights to the BVI? Have cost-benefit analysis, environmental impact assessment statements...........,,,etc been conducted? And if so, is government taking the findings seriously? Will taxpayers have to heavily subsidize direct flights to make it happen? Though BVI Airways $7M investment was a head scratching investment , nonetheless, will this project kill the investment? Should not Virgin Islanders get up off their lazy boys and let their voices be seriously heard? Will protesting after the fact be useless like people in America protesting after Ttump won? Should air-sea transportation link be seriously pursued as an a project alternative? Should the the ferry system be modernize?
    • @Socrates (30/12/2016, 09:57) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      @Socrates, on the surface, the endless questions appear annoying (but what should one expect from the name Socrates). But if one exercise the patience to read through the questions and answer them (you only pose questions, not answers), they stimulate more thought and discussion. Each of us is left to provide our own answers. The questions need answers though.
  • Diaspora (30/12/2016, 05:25) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    Did the World Bank debar the China Communication Construction Company? China has surplus cash to invest. Will they fund the project and if no why not? Are they willing to construct the project but not fund it? Should not this makes us go hu....... Normally with surplus cash to invest, China will make low interest/no interest loans or deliver project at no cost....etc. Nonetheless, for their investment, they require your using Chinese material, equipment, labour....etc, relaxing immigration and labour policies for their citizens, expecting favorable votes at the UN and other world bodies (oh but the VI has no vote at the UN).
  • AWAL (30/12/2016, 06:28) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    Where is governor john duncan?
    • @ Awal (30/12/2016, 10:07) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      he has not moved form where he has been! sleeping like Dr. Smith
  • Concern citizens (30/12/2016, 07:34) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    We wanted to build a airport
    Where is the medical facility to accommodate the influx of people if there is a disaster happen
    We build a cruise good with a great in flux of people that was nice but look at the number taxi incidents with passengers traveling to cane garden bay
    We need proper infrastructure before we keep bringing this influx of people to the Bvi
    Government officials you don't think is time to have to taxi change the to cane garden bay to avoid disaster
    Like avoid joes hill and go up mountain
    Go down windy hill to ballast bay onto CGB one way in and exit out from CGB up round hill it's a safer route
    Government leave that airport alone
    It have great economic impact on lots of family
    Let put about a $8 million into 4 new ferries and take another $42 million into our health care and infrastructure needs first before the airport
    Let the multimillionaire companies buy get that can land on what we have it's cheaper they can loose if it don't fly in the Bvi they can fly elsewhere
    Let's no burden the country with the debt and worst more with the Chinese
  • Noel Lloyd (30/12/2016, 09:06) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    and Lavity must be turning in they grave. How did we get ourselves in this hot mess. No transparency, no budget, back deals, awarding themselves and friends contracts, disrespect in our hoa, bold face lies, cover ups, favoritism, victimization, bad public management, delay in paying dam increments, terrible roads, bad debt, increase in taxes, $8 mil in legal fees outside attorney general office, roads a disaster, improper school plans, unnecessary traveling, severe overspending on cruise ship pier and bad forecast, bank bailout, manipulating fsc, bad cccc contract don't talk about the disrespect to our intelligence. How can we get these honorable pigs out our dam house? The worst Premier ever and anyone who support him need to get the hell out our dam house. The place infested with so much crime because we have no genuine leadership. Stupid Alvera hugging criminals even convicted muderers. How can a lawmaker proclaim not all jailbirds are criminals? We set no standard in this country. We have no Governor. He's on dam holiday. We need to march for our rights and take back our country before it get worst.
  • NPolitico (30/12/2016, 10:21) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    The BVI is dangling precariously off the cliff (fiscal) and is wandering aimlessly in the wilderness. It needs strong effective leadership to rescue it off the cliff (fiscal cliff) and lead it out of the wilderness. It needs a modern day Noel, Nelson, Hamilton........etc to lead it. Noel's bravery and unselfishness died with him. The current guava crop is about self interest, not national interest. This airport extension project is about building a personal legacy so let the people eat cake, for who cares what they think and what it cost them. We (government) is invincible, for we shellac the Opposition, leaving them in the dust with an 11-2 beat down. We know what time it is. The current situation is perilous. The Peter Principle is on full display. Popularity does not always equate to strong and effective leadership.

    The VI is small and cannot afford the avoidable mistakes and poor planning. E. Leonard consistently makes the connection between small size and inherent disadvantages and vulnerabilities. Concur. We cannot ignore the fact that we are small and must plan activities commensurate with our size and resources.
  • Backhanders (30/12/2016, 15:53) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Any government in bed with CCCC with been cash in a shadow of corrpution and backhanders
  • wisdom (31/12/2016, 03:12) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    All ayo sleeping...let me wake ayo up ...just look and see who will be the new Minister of Airports in 2017. Over and out!!!!!

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