Govt to take delinquent contractors to court

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall

The PPP/C Government will be implementing stringent measures, such as stronger penalties and lawsuits, this year to deal with delinquent contractors, who continue to waste taxpayers’ money and produce substandard, shoddy work.

This is according to Attorney General Anil Nandlall during his weekly programme – Issues In The News. He pointed out that this administration is overhauling the entire procurement process so as to ensure that contractors can no longer be negligent on Government projects.

“For years, we have had millions and millions of dollars haemorrhaging in this procurement process and in the way contracts are being executed. Well, now it will not continue anymore. Legal proceedings will be filed against contractors when they breach their contracts; contracts will be terminated; liquidated damages will be applied where appropriate; and contractors will be sanctioned for delinquent, negligent, and substandard work. It cannot be business as usually anymore,” the Attorney General asserted.

Against this backdrop, Nandlall disclosed that, in the coming days, lawsuits will be filed against certain firms for violating their contracts with Government.

“This month, two contractors will be sued for breaching their contracts with the Government, and millions of dollars will be claimed against them for breach of contract. For loss of use of the public facility which they were contracted to build, liquidated damages will be applied, interest will have to be paid on the Government’s money, and there are going to be other consequences that will affect their ability to get work in the future,” he disclosed.

The Attorney General added that even state engineers found to be complicit will have to face the same fate.

“They will also be penalised, and they will also be joined as defendants and sued with the contractors; because, in many cases, it is either through their negligence, through their oversight, or, quietly frankly, through their conspiratorial actions that the contractors are able to perpetrate and perpetuate these travesties and violate their contracts with impunity,” the AG stressed.

Nandlall, who is also the Legal Affairs Minister, further disclosed that Government would be creating offences along with penalties for contractual breaches.

“We are reviewing the Procurement Act to create some offences, and to add high-penalty criminal offences when there is violation of that legislation, so that the Auditor General’s Report can have teeth when it comes out,” the Minister disclosed.

According to AG Nandlall, “We welcome contractors, but we want good quality work, because we are paying good taxpayers’ money and a lot of taxpayers’ money, and this haemorrhaging; this unlawfulness; this humongous wastage must stop.”

Since taking office, the PPP/C Government has already terminated several multi-million-dollar contracts due to a number of breaches by contractors. Among those terminated are the contract to Courtney Benn Contracting Services for reconstruction of the St. Roses High School, and the contract to BK International Inc for construction of the Yarrowkabra Secondary School.