United Pac, a local advocacy group, has called for the immediate and independent review of a decision by the Saint Lucia Air and Seaports Authority (SLASPA) to award a contract for the construction and operation of a private jet operating facility at the Hewanorra International Airport.
In a press release, United Pac called on the ministers of finance and infrastructure to commission, without delay, a review into the processes leading to SLASPA’s granting of the contract to an association comprising four firms namely, L-Caribbean, Herzog, Metro Caribbean and a United States-based fixed-based operator (FBO).
The group is basing its request on what it said were “grave” concerns communicated by bidders. United Pac said it fears that there may have been conflict of interest issues which could have compromised the bidding and selection process.
“We are aware that grave concerns have been expressed by other bidders over the following: the fact that the integrity of the award process may have been compromised due to conflict of interest issues; the details of the criteria used which resulted in the scores awarded to the successful bidder in the evaluation being disproportionately higher than those awarded to other bidders; and that the United States-based FBO Operator in the winning consortium appear to be the least experience of all the FBO operators participating in the bid process,” the group said.
“Further we call on the ministers concerned, in the interest of accountability and transparency, to make public and explain the composition of the review panel which awarded this latest contract especially given reports that there were no persons with related technical competence on the panel,” the release stated.
United Pac in its release made a plea to the ministers to “act decisively” in order to remove “the cloud of doubt and suspicion which now hangs over the award of this latest contract”.
“It is in the interest of Saint Lucia that there is no suggestion or allegation of maladministration or corruption in relation to the activities or operations of SLASPA, a statutory corporation that is responsible for some of the largest contracts awarded in the country. We are mindful as well that SLASPA is expected to request proposals in the near future for the paving of the runway and for the redevelopment of the terminal at Hewanorra International Airport,” the group stated.
United Pac believes that “any perceived irregularities in the process by which the contract in question was awarded will undermine the confidence of funders and contractors, both local and international, and the general public in SLASPA and future decisions on awarding of contracts for work commissioned by SLASPA”.