STATEMENT BY PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE
HONOURABLE ANDREW A. FAHIE
11th August, 2020
Procurement and Installation of Impact Resistance
Good morning and God’s abundant blessings to all the people of the Virgin Islands.
I’d like to recognise the protocol already established.
Today, we have a special guest with us Mr. Carlyiek Benjamin the shadow Minister to the Minister for Transportation so let’s gave him a round of applause. It’s a leadership initiative. We all were encouraged by the Minister of Transportation to emulate because a good idea is a good idea no matter where it comes from. And, we also have some other initiatives that are coming out from among us a Government to help groom our young people towards leadership, better speaking skills, and we have plenty more in store so I commend Mr. Carlyiek Benjamin and all those who are involved in this initiative and all the upcoming initiatives that we will be having District by District from us the Government Ministers and the entire nine member Government.
Today, we are here to move forward with works on the Ralph T. O’Neal Administration Complex.
We are fixing the building once and for all bearing in mind that no significant repairs were attempted after damages were received in 2017 due to Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
One of the things we made as a priority when we got into office was to expedite the recovery and rebuilding agenda and to prioritise the rehabilitation of the Central Administration Complex.
We believed then and still today, public officers and the public deserve to work, conduct business and provide quality services in an environment that is reasonably comfortable and, most of all, safe.
This, therefore, meant taking active steps to ensure that the Ralph T. O’Neal Administration Complex becomes a quality infrastructure that Virgin Islanders could be proud of.
I am pleased that we continue to push forward as a Government in making sure that this happens to ensure the safety of all.
That is why, in early September 2019, as a Cabinet, we took the decision that the Deputy Governor, whose office was responsible for the project planning process to hand over the project management responsibility to the Minister for Transportation, Works, and Utilities.
I thank the Deputy Governor for the work that has been done and the work that he and his office continue to do.
I thank the Minister for Transportation, Honourable Kye Rymer, for fully committing to delivering on this project and also I thank his staff.
He is indeed moving with haste to get this project going so that the government's business can once again be conducted from one central location.
On October 18, 2019, Members of the House of Assembly during the Seventh Sitting of the First Session of the Fourth House of Assembly voted unanimously to have the complex rename in the honour of the late R.T. O’Neal, OBE. We all felt this was a fitting honour, which gave us a Government an additional momentum to get the building repairs moving forward.
In November 2019, your Government signed a contract with the Director of Professional Roofing Mr. Kishor Karnani from Aruba to replace the Central Administration Complex Roofing Membrane.
Then we would have had some work being conducted by STO Enterprise, Mr. Dion Stoutt and Wallans Skylight repairing the roof specifically to address sealing the concrete base of the roof and reinstalling the sky lighting.
In May 2020, your Government signed a contract with the Managing Director of OBMI Limited, Mr. Marvin Flax, for the architectural design; engineering and construction supervision and contract management of the building. He manages the execution of this project to completion, working jointly with the Ministry of Transportation, Works, and Utilities.
So as you can see we are on the move.
Now we are here in a different capacity signing a contract with Mr. Colin O’Neal of Design BVI Ltd for the procurement and installation of impact resistance windows, doors and frames for the building.
Mr. O’Neal, I congratulate you on successfully securing the bid.
Your Government continues to be pleased to see that members of our local construction industry continue to bid on projects.
It was just Sunday evening, 9th August 2020, I would have delivered an address titled: An Economic Boost for Virgin Islands on the Horizon, specifically focusing on the Construction Industry.
I want to reiterate a few of the things I said because I believe that our people have the capacity to deliver on whatever they put their minds to.
Our people must continue to avail themselves for opportunities.
I said that over the past few weeks, we have been working hard as a Government to develop a procurement regime that would allow greater participation by local contractors and service providers, while at the same time adhering to the principles of international best practice and assuring quality, value for money, transparency and accountability.
This step we took was important because professionals in these fields will testify to some of the challenges our local contractors face; problems that lock them out from being even considered for projects that they are capable of delivering.
Even the petty contract system has been fraught with challenges. And the situation is made even worse because of the precautionary measures that became necessary due to COVID-19.
In the Ministry of Finance, and together with our partner agencies, we have designed a procurement policy recently approved by Cabinet for times of emergencies, such as natural disasters, catastrophic events, and pandemics that will overcome these obstacles and allow us to engage local contractors while having a rigorous system of checks and balances operating throughout.
We have completed the policy framework, and we have been discussing it with funding partners such as international lending agencies. This is because we would need their approval to change conditions attached to those funds so that it would allow more qualified local contractors to benefit from these opportunities.
One important feature of the new emergency procurement policy is that it will allow for, in some cases, the subdivision of larger projects into smaller packages. In this way, more local construction companies – including our smaller contractors – would be able to share in the opportunities created by your Government to stimulate our economy through construction, among other areas.
The feedback has been positive, and your Government is feverishly working with the Attorney General’s Office to get the legislative changes that may be necessary, submitted. After this, approval by both the Cabinet and the House of Assembly will be sought.
By doing this, we would be allowing the monies to stay in the Territory and circulate numerous times to contribute to the national flow of income positively.
We are a Government working for the people—a Government that cares.
The reality is we have a Territory to build. Government needs its infrastructural work done, our local businesses need economic activity, and our people need jobs.
This process will open many doors for all our contractors in the BVI amidst the COVID-19 era.
One of the things I continue to say is that we are future-proofing the BVI. In other words, we are preparing our people for tomorrow, and we are reinforcing, repairing, rebuilding, reconstructing, constructing our buildings to face the realities of climate change and we are doing that from today. Additionally, we will continue to put in place or update legislation and policy to strengthen existing building and construction regulations.
As we move forward with this complex, as with other infrastructural development projects, we are making sure that we think and go green; this means harmonising designs, whether it is for public infrastructure or residential or commercial building.
That is why impact resistance windows, doors and frames are important and must take into consideration natural elements that we are faced with as a destination and jurisdiction.
Once again, I say congratulations to Mr. O’Neal of Design BVI Ltd for securing the contract.
You have stepped up to prove that you can deliver the quality goods.
Continue to let what you do be an inspiration to other contractors, even those up and coming. Encourage them to capitalise on these different opportunities being created by the Government so that they too can help improve their quality of life, and in turn the economy.
I hear you on the radio from time to time so I know that you are in the business of building our people.
While you and other contractors like yourself do that, as a Government we will continue to redefine the dynamics of these sectors in favour of Virgin Islanders in an accountable and transparent manner while maintaining quality and value for money. We’re in this together.
I wish to let the public officers and the general public know that the temporary relocation from the Ralph T. O’Neal Administration Complex is necessary because as we as a Government believe in the safety of our people at all times and it is necessary for us to move out of the building this time so that the repairs can progress and the people of the Virgin Islands and the Public Officers will not be in harm’s way.
So we apologise to the public because services that were initially in one location that allows for a convenient stop are not available at this time.
However, we want to assure you, the people of the Virgin Islands that when we return to the Complex, you will be most pleased that we took the time to repair and regroup to offer even better and more services.
With that I say to God be all the Glory and May God continue to bless all of us in these beautiful Virgin Islands, and I thank you.