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PAC Questions Education Ministry’s Construction Contracts With CMU

PAC Questions Education Ministry's Construction Contracts With CMU

  Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has sought to get answers from the Education Ministry regarding it entering contracts with the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) for the construction of classrooms without doing due diligence.    The arrangement was the subject of a probe by the Auditor General’s Department which released a report in June outlining its findings.   Members of the PAC on Tuesday asked Dr. Grace McLean, Acting Permanent Secretary in the Education Ministry, to explain why the CMU was contracted for construction works at nine schools.   “CMU approached the ministry and made a presentation about a new method that they have been doing for the construction of buildings at their facility and other places within the country, which is that of using (containers) and using some kind of padding, I believe, to make the buildings habitable,” Dr. McLean revealed.    She said based on the cost and time frame given by the CMU in which the proposed works could be completed, the Education Ministry decided to award them the contract.     The Auditor General found that proposed contract variations submitted by the CMU were expected to increase to $277 million, compared with the initial contract sum of $218 million.    The Auditor General said the CMU did not seek the ministry’s approval for the contract variations.    The Education Ministry admitted to one of the Auditor General’s findings that procurement guidelines were not followed in the construction contract with the CMU. However, it said steps are being taken to make the necessary corrections.