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KINGSTON, JAMAICA, September 20th, 2017:The Opposition People’s National Party, yesterday, took the Holness administration to task on what appears to be a disregard of the rights of Jamaican construction professionals and other workers in the plans to develop the Parliamentary district in downtown Kingston.

In answering questions tabled by the Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips about a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government and China Construction America Limited (CCAL), which was signed March 9, 2017, the Prime Ministerwas forced to face the fact that Jamaican companies were put at a clear disadvantage because the Government’s invitation to public tender excluded local participation.

The Government signed the MoU with the CCAL in what it described as an ‘unsolicited proposal’ to provide technical and other support to the project. No other bidder was apprised of the terms that were offered to CCAL.

According to Dr. Phillips, this MoU has given CCAL an unfair advantage over local entities who may have had an interest in the pending development, but were not informed that offers for design proposals were being accepted.

“Why not open up the playing field to qualified Jamaicans to have an opportunity to participate in the design of the new Parliamentary building, if they so desire?” Dr. Phillips asked.

“The case is that one company has been granted the contract and is told they can invest their money in doing the design work; they are already at an advantage in the preparation work.”

The US$ billion project under this MoU is open, PM Holness said, to any company that is able to provide its own financing as Government is not able to offer fiscal support.

But Dr. Phillips was firm in his defence of the rights of Jamaican engineers, architects, contractors and other construction workers to participate in the major national project, declaring that they were not given a choice to even explore the possibility of taking part.

Furthermore, he said the fact that no public offer was made in the form of the advertisement published in any local newspaper inviting the submission of proposals, is a breach of the nation’s procurement rules.

“I want the Government to observe the law of the land. The procurement rules of the land of Jamaica cannot be breached by the Government of Jamaica. The procurement rules are set to protect the people of Jamaica.” Dr. Phillips said.

He said the Jamaican experts and professionals, including the architects, engineers, masons and other construction workers who have built the national stadium and other major national developments, have been excluded from this arrangement by their own Government.

Joining the opposition leader is in defence of the right of Jamaicans, Member of Parliament for Central Manchester Peter Bunting suggested that the Government move to design the project in bite-sized modules so that medium-sized and small local companies can be a part of the project.

“If you do this, you have a package that is manageable by Jamaicans,” Mr Bunting said. “There is a difference between Jamaicans participating as flag men and masons, while they are being left out as designers, engineers and contractors.” He said.

Central Kingston Member of Parliament Ronnie Thwaites questioned whether consideration had been given to the appropriate resettlement of thousands of residents who will be displaced with this Parliamentary development and what guarantees are there that communities will not be broken up.