PAULWELL – IS HE FOR US OR AGAINST US?

Philip Paulwell’s conduct during this entire EWI fiasco could mislead visitors from Mars to conclude he’s a shareholder of EWI and not the Minister appointed to protect Jamaica from EWI.

Lest we forget:
1. The procurement process to select a preferred bidder for a government licence to construct a 381 Megawatt power plant was well advanced (bid deadline had passed) when Paulwell intervened and “requested” that OUR accept EWI’s bid
2. EWI’s bid was thereby routed through the Ministry to O.U.R after the bid deadline had passed and NOT through normal channels. Despite these palpable irregularities, the Minister intervened with OUR who accepted EWI’s late bid;
3. EWI ia ranked 2nd among bidders. The preferred bidder fails to post the required bid security on time; is immediately disqualified; and EWI promoted to preferred bidder;
4. The Contractor General reports the procurement process is flawed and improper and opines EWI shouldn’t be awarded the contract. Parliament ignores this. The Minister presses on
5. OUR requests financials from EWI. None is presented. Instead, an associated company’s financials are used. Eventually, OUR recommends the licence. In between, Paulwell publicly pressures OUR to quickly recommend the licence by announcing that the minute the recommendation is made, he’ll sign the licence. Thus he painted the statutory regulator as a nuisance;
6. Contrarily, when OUR recommends a form of licence, the Minister takes days to grant an “amended” licence to EWI. Meanwhile, a clumsy attempt is made to disband the Energy Monitoring Committee (EMC) an independent jointly (cabinet/PSOJ) appointed body to oversee the project’s implementation.
7. The “amended licence” is kept secret even from the EMC. It turns out Paulwell removed almost all terms in OUR’s draft Licence for financial requirements by specific deadlines and for project updates;
8. IDB announces it won’t be financing the project because of the improprieties in procurement;
9. One of the few financial requirements saved from the Minister’s editing is for a $37 million performance bond to be posted by April 25.
10. The Bond isn’t posted on April 25, 26, 27 or 28 when EWI tries to pretend it was posted by saying its Bank has all the necessaries in hand;
11. When faced with EWI’s attempted three card trick, Paulwell deflects the question; blames the IDB for withholding financing; and the Contractor General for finding impropriety. Apparently blinded by desperation, Paulwell actually says he’ll meet the Contractor General and influence him to change his report. Not once does Paulwell consider EWI should be disqualified and next in line asked to step up.

Where does the Minister stand? Is he for us or is he for EWI? As Minister, is politics or pragmatism his guide? Where does cabinet/PSOJ/EMC stand? It reminds me of a dysfunctional folk group (fictional) who allowed politics to destroy promising careers. Here’s Johnny Cash’s take on that error.

There once was a musical troupe
a pickin’ singin’ folk group.
They sang the mountain ballads
and the folk songs of our land

They were long on musical ability.
Folks thought they would go far.
But political incompatibility
led to their downfall

Well, the one on the right was on the left
and the one in the middle was on the right
and the one on the left was in the middle
and the guy in the rear was a Methodist

Why has Paulwell proceeded at all times as if only EWI should be allowed the Licence? Does this Minister need reminding what his powers/responsibilities are? He has absolutely no legal authority to amend a licence whose terms were recommended by O.U.R. By law, he’s excluded from the detailed due diligence process mandated for O.U.R. to follow so what basis would he have (except secret, private knowledge) to interfere with that Authority’s draft? No legal provision expressly permits this extraordinary piece of political interference and several provisions impliedly exclude it. What’s going on?

Paulwell’s desperate reliance on the Electric Lighting Act is embarrassing because that Act has to do with actually supplying electricity and not the result of a procurement process for the construction of infrastructure. When the power plant is built, a separate licence under the Electric Lighting Act can be issued. Conditions to be inserted (in the licence or Regulations) under that Act are specifically to ensure the reliability of the electricity supply and personal safety of customers and the like. Try another one, Minister.

His assertion that the procurement process was “informal” is beyond ludicrous. This is a pivotal national project. It’s impossible for a foreign licensee’s selection to be “informal”.

If the process was “informal” why’d O.U.R publish a bidding deadline? Was the deadline “informal”? If the process was “informal” why’d O.U.R disqualify preferred bidder Azurest-Cambridge immediately it failed a financial requirement? Was the process “formal” for Azurest-Cambridge yet “informal” for EWI? If the process was “informal” why was the EMC established?  If the process was “informal” why ask for audited financials? And why’d Paulwell delete that from the original licence”? Why was a clumsy attempt made to dismantle the EMC? What gives Paulwell the right to ask the Contractor General (CG) to “modify” his finding? Is he under the delusion that Jamaica is EWI’s agent and must ensure EWI succeeds? Is he for or against us?

This musical aggregation toured the entire nation
singing traditional ballads
and the folk songs of our land.
They performed with great virtuosity
and soon they were the rage.
But political animosity
prevailed upon the stage.

Well, the one on the right was on the left
and the one in the middle was on the right
and the one on the left was in the middle
and the guy in the rear burned his driver’s license.

That proposed approach to the CG would be an egregious breach of the Constitution by an officer sworn to uphold it. The CG doesn’t work for the Minister. He’s an independent Parliamentary Commission whose “boss” (Parliament) is the body responsible for keeping checks and balances on Ministers. Ministers don’t suggest to CGs what they should find. CGs advise Ministers how to act with propriety. This Minister is either totally confused or believes politics is more important than Jamaica’s system of governance. If the CG won’t bend to Paulwell’s will, is there going to be a fist fight?

Well the curtain had ascended
A hush fell on the crowd
as thousands there were gathered
to hear The folk songs of our land.
But they took their politics seriously
and that night at the concert hall
as the audience watched deliriously
they had a free-for-all

Well, the one on the right was on the bottom
and the one in the middle was on the top
and the one on the left got a broken arm
and the guy on his rear, said, ‘Oh dear’

We all came down like a ton of bricks on Richard Azan for circumventing procurement procedures in building some much needed shops for constituency improvement. What makes Philip Paulwell invulnerable to identical critique? In my opinion, his transgressions are worse than Azan’s whose breach resulted in palpable benefit to his constituents. Paulwell’s actions are like those of a man working for a delinquent government licensee against the government’s Energy Regulator and CG. His proposal to remove the OCG and OUR from future procurement processes and replace with his sole discretion is a further abuse of ministerial authority. For that proposal alone he should be asked to resign. For his display of egregious contempt for governance and proper procedures for conducting his employers’ (a.k.a. taxpayers’) business, he needs to find alternative employment. In a phrase, it’s time for Philip Paulwell to pack his bags and go!

Now this should be a lesson
if you plan to start a folk group.
Don’t go mixin’ politics
with the folk songs of our land.
Just work on harmony and diction.
Play your banjo well.
and if you have political convictions
keep ’em to yourself.

Now, the one on the left works in a bank
and the one in the middle drives a truck.
The one on the right’s an all-night deejay
and the guy in the rear got drafted.

Failure to remedy this ugly breach of protocol, procedure and policy will be akin to placing the lunatics in charge of the Asylum.

Peace and Love

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